Monday, 2 February 2015

Do Uniforms Help Children to Learn?

 #28daysofwriting.  Day 3

I'm wondering where there is any research that proves that having a school uniform actually help kids to learn?  As I have only 28 minutes to write this post I'm going to do a quick google scholar search and see what I can find and see if there is anything to persuade me that they do in fact assist kids.

I couldn't find a thing to suggest they do impact positively on academic success.  However, I did find some articles with student voice that mentioned having a uniform helped in reducing peer bullying targeting what the children were wearing.  As an aside,  I wonder if a uniform creates a greater sense of belonging and how this may impact positively for kids in the education setting?

So, uniforms.  Good or bad?  or maybe it's not that simple?  Being a new school we were fortunate enough to be able to start at the drawing board around what we wanted and what our parent community would like.

The stance of the leadership team was pretty straight-forward back in 2012.  We didn't want a full school uniform that we would have to enforce for a few reasons:

1) We didn't want valuable time to be eaten up by 'policing' if wee Jimmy had the right socks on or not.

2) If we are personalising learning and valuing our children as individuals then why should we make a blanket decision about the wearing of a uniform?

3) Most importantly of all, what was driving our thinking was where is the research to suggest having a uniform will impact positively on children's academic success?

These conversations were taking place before we had a parent community as the school was still been built, (2012) and our local community was still bare sections and wooden housing framework.  We did a community consultation as per policy.

Our community, by a majority wanted a uniform, so we went ahead and began the design process ever mindful of been smart about how we would roll it out and the impact it may have on us and our community.

Local Wind-chime Art Installation & New Housing 2014

Hobsonville Point Primary 2012

What we have now is some versatile options of a school uniform that we only insist is worn when we need to be able to easily recognise our students outside of school.  Students choose if they wear the uniform to school and this way teachers and staff don't have to invest time into worrying too much about if a shirt is tucked in or not.


After enduring days where it has been thirty degrees and stifling hot outside, it's been lovely having a more relaxed dress code for both the kids and the staff.  After 17 years of teaching today was the first day I have ever worn jandals to work and it was awesome.  I'm pretty certain they didn't have a negative impact either.


  1. This is always an interesting debate. As you have said, for students it comes down to what commuinities want. I love a flexi uniform for kids. As a parent I prefer a uniform for my daughter who is a slow starter in the mornings. My issue has always been with the business dress code for staff. I think it is gender discrimination that my male colleagues have to wear a tie, shoes and socks on a hot day but women's "business" includes clothes that are more hot-weather friendly. I always feel it is unfair on a 30degree day.

  2. i completely agree. A teacher at school asked me if i wanted him to dress differently when i started as principal. I wear shirt and trousers. He is shorts and tshirt. I asked him if it would make him a better teacher, if not, then stay as he was. He did.
    I like your thinking about comfort for everyone. I also fully agree with your thinking about gender equity in this one. Definitely agree.

  3. This is such a difficult (though I agree completely unrelated to academic achievement) issue isn't it! Anecdotally, I concur with the student voice research around peer bullying and your theory around sense of belonging. As a teacher I totally agree with the positive benefits of a relaxed/flexi/optional uniform that doesn't need policing. As a parent I'm all for uniform as it makes mornings simpler/easier for child and parent and actually saves money in the long term... but for now I'm happy to follow the lead of my daughter who happily and voluntarily wore full uniform for two days this week but already has her school 'Waitangi Day' celebration outfit picked out...! Interesting reading your perspective, Lisa, I'm enjoying your blog posts...