FoI request for evidence on link between behaviour and uniforms has been delayed

Janet Downs's picture
A Freedom of Information request which asked the DfE to reveal academic evidence that traditional uniforms, prefects and house systems improve behaviour in schools has been delayed.

Could it be that the Department is having difficulty finding any?

As a teacher, I liked uniforms because they prevented the possibility of children being judged by their trendy clothes, or lack of them. As a parent I liked them because it stopped many a "I haven't got anything to wear" arguments first thing in the morning. However, I'm not sure there is a proven link between uniforms, prefects, house systems and behaviour.

What do others think?
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Natacha Kennedy's picture
Sun, 06/03/2011 - 19:37

Three out of the four primary schools I taught in over many years had no uniform. All three had good discipline despite taking children from a very wide range of disadvantaged backgrounds, and despite being schools which were very reluctant to exclude children.

These three schools, all of which were inner-city multicultural schools in areas of deprivation were all judged to be excellent by Ofsted and one was a beacon school. I also taught in a (mixed, all-in-one) primary and Secondary school in a rough part of Copenhagen which had no uniform, behaviour there was entirely unproblematic

I have recently visited a dozen schools in Germany, as well as a couple of dozen in France. All were schools with very high attainment and the kind of cooperative, pleasant behaviour which would make ANY head in the UK green with envy. Schools in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Spain also have no uniform.

In the end it seems to me that uniforms are seen as a panacea yet they have no impact at all on behaviour. What does impact on behaviour is good teaching and creating a culture of collaboration and respect which is where teachers' energies should go. Uniform is just a red herring, and one which distracts from the real issues. as such unforms are probably actually CONTRIBUTING to behaviour problems...

James's picture
Sat, 31/12/2011 - 18:16

Natacha, what are the schools that you worked at in the UK that had no uniform? I went to Sutton Centre in the UK which had no uniform but now is turning into an Academy and will have a uniform policy. Live in Canada at the moment but considering a return to the UK and would like our kids to go to a non-uniform school (what they are used to over here). Thanks

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 07/03/2011 - 11:16

Although I like uniforms because it's more difficult for pupils to be judged on the trendiness of their clothes, I also remember that I had to spend time as a teacher enforcing school uniform rules or ignoring them if I had something more pressing to do (like teach, or console a distressed child).

Ben Taylor's picture
Mon, 07/03/2011 - 11:27

Toby young let's you choose the school but not the uniform. He should call it a comprehensive uniform system then he's in the clear.

Shane Rae's picture
Mon, 07/03/2011 - 12:51

I think they will struggle to make solid links between uniform and: behavior, attainment, discipline as these things would be incredibly hard to measure/prove/disprove. I have read a few studies conducted in the States and none offer real clarity.

But how do you measure things like self esteem, confidence, 'looking smart=feeling smart', 'care in one's appearance=care in one's work', the value of understanding first impressions and human nature etc?

I'm all for uniforms and think they are right for the vast majority of pupils.

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