About school uniform
While most of our customers are British schools abroad, using traditional British school uniform, increasing numbers of international schools are looking at the merits of school uniform.
Indeed, whole governments of countries are looking increasingly closely at the possibilities of introducing school uniform in their own schools.
You would expect Schoolwear International to be a fan of school uniform, of course, but ours is not a blind, purely commercial interest. We are passionate about the practical benefits of school uniform.
There are many, many arguments offered for and against school uniform – we will summaries the main ones below – but the essential debate always tends to come down to two opposite interpretations of the basic truth that school uniform, necessarily, has to be uniform; that is, dressing all children the same.
The opposing arguments that arise from this essential fact are:
Uniformity tends to suppress individuality and to squash the opportunity for the self-expression of the child. The conclusion implied is that this would be bad for a child's development.
Uniformity tends to create a more level platform upon which learning is best promoted. The conclusion implied is that this would be best for a child's development.
As an aside, a poorly implemented or enforced school uniform policy is the worst of all possible worlds. It neither properly provides for the individuality of the child – if that is your view - nor does it help create the most level community within which education can best flourish – if that is your view.
The essential argument is, in our view, an ‘open and shut' case.
The more level a school can make the ‘playing field of learning' the greater is the potential for each individual child to thrive.
The other arguments are tangential to this essential proposition but include:
Solving the problem of specifying a dress code. If a school has no school uniform, it will almost certainly have a dress code. The practical problems of specifying such a code while achieving the overall look of the students that the schools intends is extremely – and increasingly – difficult. There is also a relief reported among parents and children at not having to decide what to wear each day to send all the right messages to their peers.
Reduced cost. While it is true that a school uniform is an additional outfit for a child compared to another child who wears ordinary leisurewear to school, the simple truth is that a school uniform will in the vast majority of cases be much cheaper than the leisurewear children would otherwise choose for themselves. Over, say, a full year a parent will find that a reasonable school uniform plus out of school leisurewear will cost much less than leisurewear everyday of the year.
Promotion of pride and belonging. We strongly support the view that school uniform tends to promote a greater sense of belonging and pride. For much the same reason, this tends to promote better discipline and a reduction in bullying and gang culture. All gangs tend to use some kind of uniform to identify themselves and this tendency will more easily flourish in the absence of any other uniform.
Increased potential for social development. It has often been reported in studies that the use of uniform tends to promote a more balanced development in social skills. This is believed to be because another child in a uniform just like your own tends to create a point of social contact whereas another child in a different outfit to your own tends to create a point of social division.
A better advertisement for the school. In these increasingly competitive times for school recruitment, a uniform is increasingly acknowledged as a useful vehicle to promote a school with its identity being much more firmly implanted in its community as the children travel to and from school in uniform.
If you are contemplating a school uniform for the first time, we offer a simple process for its introduction:
1. Design. While school uniforms need to be uniform, they do not have to be dull. Neither should they, of course, be too extreme. It is a judgement. Many schools form a group to make these judgements and involve parents, teachers, children and the governors in the process. We would be very happy to help in this process if you think we may be of assistance. We do it often and we have lots of useful and practical experience to offer.
2. Specification. Whatever design, colours or level of formality is chosen, it is important that the resulting garments are available in the full range of sizes required, are available throughout the school year, are tough enough to do the job in the challenging environment of a school day and practical enough to be washable and easy to keep for parents. And they need to be good value. They also need to be garments which will be available year in year out. This is one of the main reasons we support the established schoolwear brands so strongly; they are proven winners, constantly available and across the full size range of children's sizes, not just a restricted range of the 'average' sizes.
3. Supply. With a uniform chosen, the business of supply can be accomplished by one of three means. The first is for you, the school, to buy and resell to parents at a school shop or from the magic school ‘cupboard'. The second is to appoint a willing local shop to stock and sell the garments on your behalf. In both these cases Schoolwear International will provide a wholesale service for you. The third alternative is an innovation from Schoolwear International; your own virtual school shop. It is a simple transactional website accessed from a button on your school website which is stocked with exactly what you have specified at prices agreed with you. It is operated entirely by us without any cost to the school whatever and parents pay normal UK High Street prices.
Do please contact us to visit an example of a virtual school shop.
In fact, if you are contemplating a uniform at all, do please feel free to contact us and talk it over without any commitment whatsoever. The hard sell is not our style; conscientious service is!
As a final observation, we know of course that many, many children throughout the world never wear any school uniform and we have no illusions that school uniform can make a bad school good. But we do firmly believe that it is a thoroughly valuable tool to help every future citizen in the world to get the best from their schooldays.