Are strictly enforced uniform rules fair on students?
Here in the UK, the vast majority of secondary schools carry the requirement that every child must wear a school uniform. On the surface, this seems like an excellent idea - what better way to avoid the richer kids flaunting their designer jeans while the poorer ones wear out their Primark buys? However, even with school uniform, those with less disposable income still suffer.
Schools have the right to demand that the children's entire uniform is branded by the school, right down to the socks in some cases. In what world is it fair on parents who may be struggling to afford to even feed their kids three meals a day—especially now that Theresa May has snatched away free school dinners—to pay hundreds of pounds to clothe their children to a standard that will allow them to escape a daily detention?
Now, I understand more than many people that kids behave better when they are dressed smartly; in work in a school and have seen the positive effect that strict uniform rules can have on behaviour in school. But that doesn't change the fact that poorer kids are discriminated against if their parents prioritise having food in the fridge over a blazer they inevitably need to replace in a couple of years as their kids grow.
And there arises the issue of sibling hand-me-downs. Making the kids all dress the same only eliminates the issue of bullying if every uniform is brand new, so those kids whose parents can't afford that for every child when an outgrown blazer from their eldest sits unused are still discriminated against by their peers and, worse still, disciplined by their teachers for something that is out of their control.
It seems to me that this system of sending kids whose only crime is not being provided with an expensive school 'requirement' to detention is only going to turn them into trouble-makers, in the same way that sending someone to prison for a minor crime will inevitably turn them into a repeat offender rather than rehabilitate them.
And what is the alternative to a child showing up to school wearing inadequate uniform? Not showing up to school at all. and if they skip school without a valid reason? Well, detention, of course!
This vicious cycle may not be relevant for enough pupils to make it a sufficient concern for the school, especially when an instant detention for walking around without a blazer is making the children actually uphold such rules, but there is no denying how unfair this is on good kids who must be constantly in trouble through no fault of their own. If they're given a detention for something they have no power to change, what incentive is there to follow any of the other school rules?
As I said, I understand why the school uniform rules are in place, but how is it just to simultaneously demand that every child go to school (with good attendance) and make it compulsory for attendance to wear an expensive uniform for which no form of monetary help is available?