Young people should be given more say in school uniform to help with reducing stigma, an Aberdeen-based researcher has said.
As part of Explorathon 2020, an online event was held this week to discuss the importance of school uniforms and how stigma can affect families who may struggle to afford the costs.
Dr Rachel Shanks, senior lecturer in the school of education, has been working with students to find out more about the policies.
She carried out a study into the policies and found that more than 96% of the academies in Scotland have a compulsory dress code, 320 out of 323 secondary schools have uniforms that include a school tie, 235 a blazer and 200 schools don’t allow jeans to be worn.
The aim of the research was to look at the reasons given for school uniform policies, and what was laid down in them.
Key recommendations given from the information gathered included that statutory guidance on uniform policies should be developed with affordability as the top priority, that there should be regular reviews of exclusive supply arrangements of uniform items in order to reduce the cost and that pupils should be involved in decision making in both the creation of and review of uniform, dress code and appearance policies.
She said: “Young people should be involved in deciding if there’s a school uniform. I was surprised there wasn’t more schools that didn’t have a uniform.
“There’s more on girls uniform policies, such as how long a skirt needs to be. I was most surprised about how much was banned – large logos are banned, logos bigger than the school badge are banned, football colours are banned, leggings are banned, jeggings are banned, big earrings are banned. It surprised me just how narrow the school uniform policy is.
“I think it’s still common because people look to the fee-paying schools which have strict policies.”
Ms Spencer gave Keith Grammar School in Moray as a good example of a school that has been working towards improving uniforms.
She said: “Keith Grammar has removed logos, they have simplified colours, there’s lots of different things they’ve done to make it more affordable, they don’t want people to feel unwelcome because of what they are wearing.”
She said ways to ensure that uniform remained affordable included consulting pupils and families, simplify colours and remove logos, supply ties for all using parent council funds, promote school clothing grants, use pupil equity funding to buy stocks of jumpers and shirts, encourage families to let the school know of difficulties, school uniform banks and replace old discipline policies with a rational approach.