Suspend school uniform until September 2021

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If you can picture the scene, I’m attempting to shove my kids out the door for some exercise. I do a double take as something about Izzy, my youngest daughter doesn’t quite look right. Then I realise what it is: She’s wearing tracksuit bottoms that are part of her school PE kit.

Suspend school uniform
When the schools do return, is there an argument to suspend uniform for the rest of this academic year?

I ask her not wear them for day-to-day wear. I instantly realise what I’ve said is completely daft, tell her I made a mistake and that it’s absolutely fine. I go a step further and tell Helen, her older sister, that if she wants to wear her school’s sports gear, she might as well.

Why so? Those clothes have been bought and paid for. We all know young children grow at a phenomenal rate. If COVID-19 means they’re going to be undertaking remote learning for the foreseeable future, they might as well wear these clothes at home. We’d normally be quite tough about telling the kids not to wear any items of school uniform but these aren’t normal times.

After these conversations with my kids, my wind wandered. Aside from PE kit, my kids haven’t worn a single piece of school uniform since mid-December and they won’t be wearing any for at least another month. It got me wondering if school uniform should be scrapped for the remainder of this school year. Some may think it’s a crazy idea, but there are very compelling arguments to say it should be.

Let us assume for one second that the children do return to school on 8 March. Out of a school year of 39 weeks, that would leave approximately 18 weeks until the start of the summer break. Remove the weekends and half term, and we’re left with about 80 days potentially spent in the classroom.

That figure of 80 days is an absolute maximum. The mood music seems to be that certain school year groups will return before others. There’s also a lot of talk about schools returning on a rota basis, spending a fortnight at home, then a fortnight at at school. Even when kids are back at school, there will be the ever-present risk of COVID cases and entire bubbles will probably still be sent home to self-isolate.

Whatever your thoughts on school uniform (I’ve written about it many, many times before), if you spend money on it, the expectation is that your children will wear it. In the uncertain times in which we live, I’m not sure this expectation can or should be placed on parents. I’m sure many school uniform producers will hate me for saying this, but wouldn’t it make sense to scrap uniform or at least make it optional until the end of this school year?

I’ve always felt one of the most compelling reasons for keeping uniform is that it’s a great leveller. It doesn’t matter if your family hasn’t got the money to afford the latest trainers because nobody is allowed to wear them.

Equally, however, there are a lot of families out there who are struggling financially at the moment because parents have been furloughed or made redundant. Do they really need the expense of buying uniform or special school shoes just to see out the Easter and Summer term, especially if there’s a chance they might be remote schooled at home for half of it? It simply doesn’t make sense.

That’s before we get on to the difficulties of actually buying school uniform. With non-essential retail closed and Coronavirus restrictions inevitably remaining in place for months to come, it won’t be quite so easy to buy school shoes that fit or get hold of embroidered jumpers and cardigans. Shopping for such items takes real effort at the best of times, especially if you have kids at more than one school. Shopping for them during Coronatime is even more tricky.

What do you think? Should we suspend school uniform for the rest of this academic year? Maybe you can think of reasons it should stay in place? I invite you to leave a comment below.

I’ll finish off with an anecdote, a real dad moment. Having told my kids to wear their PE kit or school clothes if they wanted, my eldest daughter took me a little bit too literally.

One day last week we went out for a walk across some muddy fields. Helen left the house before me so I didn’t get a chance to see what she was wearing.

About 10 minutes later I caught up with her. As expected, mud was splattered all the way up her tracksuit bottoms. When I looked at her feet, however, I noticed she wasn’t wearing Wellington boots. My heart sank as I slowly reaslised what she had on her feet.

She was wearing her school shoes. What should have been a pair of Clark’s finest was absolutely covered in the sloppiest, liquid mud solution. I couldn’t actually see her shoes because they were so comprehensively covered in mud.

I asked why she wasn’t wearing Wellingtons and I was informed she didn’t realise it was going to be so muddy. Words were had about it being fine for her to wear school shoes because she might as well use them, just not while on muddy walks.

Guess who got the job of cleaning Helen’s school shoes do I? Yes, that’s right, it was me. I don’t mind admitting it was one of the less glamorous dad moments in my life!

2 thoughts on “Suspend school uniform until September 2021”

  1. One of the finest dad moments there John, the art of shoe cleaning, I’ve had the same job many times myself.

    When put into context like that with how long left possibly at school before the summer break it is very low. I do agree that I don’t think uniform should be required when they return to school, a very valid point made.

    We have already had to buy new shoes and clothes since Christmas as our eldest too have outgrown theirs, never mind school uniform.

    1. haha, shoe cleaning! Something I spent hours doing as a kid and somehow find myself spending hours doing it as an adult! Mine are growing up at a ferocious rate and the thought of getting the eldest new uniform, well, it does nothing for my wallet. The PM has already said this week that not all school years will go back at once so that 80 day figure is an absolute maximum.

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