More than 200 Bradford secondary school pupils were sent home from school this week. Their crime? Uniform infringements. They weren’t burning bras or tying their ties around their heads. They were wearing trainers or the wrong cut of trousers. But is it OK to deprive someone of a day of education just because they don’t look smart enough?
The rationale for uniform is to create a level playing field. So rich kids don’t lord it over poorer ones with their flashy jumpers and Huarache trainers and no one is teased for not following the latest trends. But the flipside of conformity is dullness. What about budding fashionistas or simply those who want to express their individuality? A bland uniform suppresses our right to express ourselves through clothes. Kids will be kids, and frankly it takes more than stipulating the right shade of blue shirt to eradicate bullying from schools. If teens want to bully others they will find their motive and means.
Schools also say that uniforms help to set high academic standards. But some of the highest-achieving countries have no uniform. Finland’s schools top international league tables and don’t have school uniform; while the UK has the uniforms without the stunning results.
Wearing uniform doesn’t even “suit” you for the workplace. It may be OK if you’re headed for the boardroom but if you’re looking for a swanky job in the tech sector, then think again. The uniform there is more beard and skinny jeans than blazer and tie. In fact, in many offices these days, you’d be more likely to get a laugh than a call back.
At my school there’s a strict uniform policy in lower school and a dress code in the sixth form. I envy a friend at another school who sat her exams in cosy leggings and comfy boots. There’s nothing more distracting in a three-hour history exam than a suffocating top button. Who knows? I might have got an A* in maths if I’d been in my onesie.
And uniform is a distraction. Teachers spend time and energy policing uniform when they could presumably be teaching us. They hand out detentions, quibble over hair dye and sometimes, creepily, ask girls to kneel on the floor to check the length of their skirts. In any case, there are better ways to introduce unity into schools. In the real world, communities are built on shared interests, not wearing identical kit. Take football fans. As it gets nippy, they may choose to don the team scarf but it’s the chants and shared hatred of the opposition that unite them. It’s actually doing a lunchtime or after-school activity that provides bonds, rather than what you’re wearing to do so.
Uniforms may work for police officers, soldiers and neo-Nazis, but they have no place in schools. The Bradford kids should wear what they want, their schools should let them – and then everyone could get on with some actual learning.
Since the new reform in September 2014, French students go to school from Monday to Friday with Wednesday afternoon off. The school day is generally longer than in the UK but the holidays are longer. Lessons usually start around 8.30 in the morning. Pupils have at least one hour and a half for lunch and usually finish school around 16.30.
The French school year numbering system in secondary school works in descending order. The final year is called la terminale and the first year is known as la sixième.
French students typically don't wear a uniform which is usually compulsory in the UK.
Philosophy is a compulsory subject in France in the last year of secondary school. Subjects such as drama or food are not usually taught in mainstream French schools. Religious education is only taught in private faith schools.