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School uniforms are an unnecessary use of control

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I remember driving with my mum past a different school one day.

‘Why aren’t they wearing a uniform?’ I said.

‘That school doesn’t have a uniform,’ my mum said. ‘The kids wear their own clothes.’

My mouth hung open in surprise. I didn’t even know not wearing a uniform was a thing. All the schools I had attended had a formal uniform policy that was rigorously enforced – and I wasn’t the only one that didn’t like it.

At my senior school, the uniform consisted of a white shirt, green skirt for girls, a tie, and a heavy green blazer. Girls were not allowed trousers and – bizarrely – were not allowed to wear tights until they were in year 10. For the first three years, we had to wear white socks against bare legs, even in the depths of winter.

There were rules about how the uniform was to be worn, too. The skirt had to be a certain style and length, no visible jewellery, no nail varnish, long hair tied back and the boys had to have hair that was short, but not too short. We were lucky that many teachers were young, flexible and understanding.

The uniform was not popular among students and those teachers who relaxed uniform rules in their class had an engaged and compliant bunch of kids ready to learn. However, there were a handful of teachers who applied the rules so literally it was sadistic in nature, and the result was........

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