Sartorial uniformity fosters a sense of camaraderie, says prominent educator and the founder of the TreeHouse chain of schools
The use of standardised uniforms in education dates back to 1222 in England, with the Archbishop of Canterbury requiring students to wear a robe-like outfit called the ‘cappa clausa.’ The modern school uniform originated in 16th-century England, specifically at Christ’s Hospital, a boarding school where impoverished ‘charity children’ wore blue cloaks resembling clergy cassocks and yellow stockings. However, the debate surrounding the role of uniforms in schools and their influence on student behaviour has persisted for numerous years. There are several arguments advocating for uniforms in schools and their potential positive impact on student behaviour.
“School uniforms are frequently perceived as equalizers since they remove visible indicators of socioeconomic status. When all students wear identical attire, it fosters a sense of equality and diminishes the burden of adhering to costly or trendy clothing. This practice aids in mitigating visible signs of social status, promoting a sense of belonging and unity among students,” says Rajesh Bhatia, the founder of Tree House Education & Accessories Ltd.
He believes uniforms can diminish peer pressure associated with clothing choices and adds, “Initially, this system was followed by private schools, but now it is mandatory for public schools as well. Wearing a school uniform generates pride and establishes the identity of a school. It becomes an integral aspect of the student years,” adds Mr Bhatia.
Uniforms can also, to some extent, prepare students for future roles in their workplaces where dress codes and professional attire are commonplace. “It is also asserted that a uniform mindset is conducive to learning, contributing to positive behaviour in the school environment. Many parents also endorse school uniforms because they believe it simplifies the process of getting ready for school and diminishes conflicts at home regarding clothing choices,” says Mr Bhatia.
As in the case of sports teams that wear uniform jerseys, it fosters a sense of camaraderie that is distinctive. However, there are also counterarguments suggesting that uniforms diminish individuality, as students are restricted from expressing their uniqueness through their clothing choices.
“Setting aside these considerations, uniforms benefit students who may not be able to afford expensive clothing. It mitigates competition regarding who is dressed the best, reducing instances of bullying, particularly since individuals wearing the same uniform are less likely to be targeted,” concludes Mr Bhatia.