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Does School Uniform Suppress Individuality?

A rule many of us in Cumbria are harshly acquainted with; love it or hate it, school uniform has a poignant presence across our county and across the whole of England.

From Bennies to West Lakes, we’re all too accustomed to stripy ties and bulky blazers, and it begs the question; is it time to speak out?

On the surface, uniform is nothing malicious. It’s a way to unite a community, a way to prevent bullying, and a way for students to rep their schools with pride.

But surely, the harm caused by the mass suppression of adolescent individuality cannot be ignored?

In the 21st Century, sanctions being handed out for pronoun badges or cultural hairstyles are offensive and outdated, as is perhaps such for the concept of uniform as a whole.

"Did the extreme amount of eyeliner a 12-year-old wore affect their education in any way whatsoever?"

As children, and teenagers in particular, develop, as do the random phases they go through. I’m sure every teenager who experienced an ‘emo’ phase regarded school uniform as the bane of their existence and enjoyed the everyday test of seeing how much eyeliner they could get away with before being sanctioned.

But at the end of the day, did the extreme amount of eyeliner a 12-year-old wore affect their education in any way whatsoever? Did the streak of blue hair ‘distract’ anyone besides from the certain teachers observant enough to pick up on it? Did black nail polish ever stop anyone from getting a job?

Caysie Ray, 16, of Keswick School states: “I understand that school uniforms are supposed to prepare us for ‘the real world’, but the reality is that most workplaces don’t care anymore! And, not all of us are going to go into blue-collar professions, so that’s that out of the window”

Clothing expectations in the workplace seem to grow increasingly more casual as time goes on, with tattoos and piercings no longer being a red flag when looking for job candidates.

So why in the school environment, are we still so disproving of facial piercings or dyed hair?

With these aspects, particularly the latter, causing no real disruption to education, it becomes increasingly obvious that the rules enforced on those who express themselves through such mediums are simply old-fashioned and outdated.

According to the Schoolwear Association; “school uniform plays a key role in promoting pride, self-confidence and a feeling of belonging within the student body.”

It can be said that these factors contribute to the overall well-being of students, along with removing social pressures of what to wear or how to present yourself. These are, of course, undeniable benefits of school uniform.

On the topic of uniform, Isla Doran, 16, of Lakes College said: “As someone who made the transition from school to college last year, I’ve found that being able to wear my own clothes and create my own overall style has had a positive impact on my self-confidence and imagination. School uniforms are useful for some, but they can also block the creative side of teenagers in the years they develop most.”

Someone sharing Isla’s opinion is Suzanne Burgoyne of Missouri University, who states that creativity typically results from less-restrictive, open atmospheres where students feel they have the freedom to express ideas, create original works and think critically.

The debate on uniform is one that will continue forever, and we would love to hear your opinion on it!

Do you feel that uniforms are useful to prevent bullying and social separation, or do you wish the youth were permitted more self-expression in the school environment?

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