Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Uniform can help reduce bullying, say students

New research has revealed that students, teachers and child development experts all agree that school uniform plays an important role in tackling bullying.

In a series of focus groups with 11 – 14 year olds, young people have spoken about the value they place on school uniform and how it can help to reduce anxiety around appearance and fitting in with their peers. As one year 9 pupil said:

“With uniform, you can’t be judged. [Without uniform] everyone would be competing about what the style is, what the trend is, what you need to wear; I think there’d be more bullying.”

Many of the students interviewed for the study said they would feel under pressure to wear branded clothing and footwear – ‘like Nike and Adidas’ – to fit in and avoid being bullied if there was no school uniform. They said this could create problems for students and families who couldn’t afford these kind of brands and, surprisingly, also for those who could: no-one wanted to be labelled ‘the rich kid’.

The research into students’ attitudes to school uniform was carried out by not for profit body, the Schoolwear Association on the back of a poll of teachers in which 75% said they thought more children were experiencing mental health issues than five years ago. 

The majority of the teachers who answered the poll reported that, whilst online bullying was on the increase and issues around appearance continued to be one of the main sources of anxiety for young people, they had actually seen a drop in the instances of traditional playground bullying. Most felt that School uniform played a part in helping children to fit in whilst at school

 Dr. Barbie Clarke, child and adolescent psychosocial development expert, led the research with the students. She said that some important conclusions could be drawn from the study and that school uniform may have significant benefits for the wellbeing of young people.

“School uniform seems to play an important role in establishing identity among young people of this age,” she said. “It can protect adolescents from being picked on or being the subject of banter that verges on bullying. This creates a greater degree of self-confidence, and ultimately helps with the fundamental adolescent need to be accepted by others.”

Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, David Burgess said:

“We recognise that bullying is complex and happens for a huge number of reasons, but this research backs up the idea that uniform can play an important role in tackling bullying in school.

“Most obviously, uniform puts students on a level playing field in terms of dress and reduces opportunities for bullying based on appearance.

“Outside of school, it enables students to be identified in the wider community – increasing both their security and their accountability outside of the school gates.”

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

School Uniform: a part of our history


Today, we recognise the many benefits of School Uniform for schools and pupils.  But where does the tradition of uniform come from?  Here is a brief history lesson!


1552
First real schools are introduced and so is uniform. 

 
 
The First known uniform is worn at Christ Hospital School of Greyfriars, City of London. It was dyed blue: the cheapest dye available at that time.


1870
The Education Act is passed, creating State Primary Schools: It is the start of the education of the masses.



 
Uniform at this time usually consists of: knitted jumpers, shorts, tie (if you had the money) all in plain, dark colours. There would have been no logos or badges.


1944
Start of secondary education (Rab Butler’s education reforms)
 



1950
A boom time for uniform, although styling remains traditional. Boys typically still wore shorts until the age of 14.
 
 The 60s saw an explosion of fabrics and colours that fit with the aspirations of a modern society. New fabrics like Bi-Nylon, Polyester and Courtelle were becoming widely used generally in clothing, and in uniforms.


Also during this time the introduction of comprehensive education saw a reduction of Grammar Schools – who had been the ones to hold on to more traditional uniforms.

 (Coutesy of https://norlington3.tumblr.com/post/150596633441)


1970
The 70s brought in a new wave of teachers who believed in a more relaxed approach and with it a decline in school uniform. For many it was non-uniform day every day!



Bailey Green Primary School, Killingworth 1975, coutesy of Chronicle Live

 The ‘best schools’ however, held on to their distinctive uniforms throughout the 70s and 80s.

 
 
The 80s saw the introduction of the polo shirt and sweatshirt which became a massive trend, especially in primary schools.
 

 
Printing and embroidery had evolved significantly at this point and the use of school logos and badges became wide-spread.


 2000
Competition for pupils and places means a move back to more traditional uniform, especially at secondary schools (although not many insist boys wear shorts and girls generally tend to also have the choice of trousers!)
 
 



 2010
Then Education Secretary, Michael Gove, talks about the importance of uniform for raising standards in schools.


2017
By now, most schools have returned to using smart, school-specific uniform recognising its benefits for promoting pride and a sense of community, improving behaviour and attainment and supporting wellbeing amongst pupils.
 
















Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Awards celebrate industry talent


The Schoolwear Association held its inaugural Awards evening on October 15th.

 
Representatives from across the industry gathered at the Strictly Come Dancing themed event to mark the achievements of the award winners and of the schoolwear sector as a whole.

David Burgess, Chairman of the Association said: “The awards have been a wonderful celebration of an industry that is incredibly proud of its standards. The nominees and indeed the winners are proof that we have much talent in our sector.”

The awards were sponsored by Children’s Wear Buyer Magazine, Banner, William Turner and David Luke.



Whittakers Schoolwear were named ‘Best Schoolwear Specialist’, impressing judges with their recently refurbished store which has led to a notable increase in sales. They were also praised for their good relationships with suppliers, high levels of staff training, and regular involvement with schools and the local community.

Runners up in this category were Billings and Edmonds and a special mention was given to Alleycatz.




In the ‘Best Digital Schoolwear’ category, the award went to Stevensons for the usability and responsive design of their recently upgraded website which includes an online appointment booking facility and the ability to download gender and year-specific price lists.

The runners up were David Luke and a special mention went to Michael Sehgal & Sons Ltd.






Rowlinson Knitwear were named ‘Best Schoolwear Supplier’ with its impressive financial and customer satisfaction performance. Staff satisfaction was also high and the firm demonstrated significant investment in infrastructure, IT and service.

The runners up in this category were Marton Mills and the judges gave a special mention to National Weaving.






The final award recognised individuals for their ‘Outstanding Service to Schoolwear’. The winner was Rob Facey of William Turner who was praised for his 40 year dedication to the company as UK production manager.

The other finalist was Kate Haigh of Charles Kirk and a special mention was given to Bernadette Hawkes of Falcon Sports.



A surprise ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ was given to David Burgess, Chairman of David Luke and the Schoolwear Association. 




David was recognised for his long career in the industry and for his contribution to setting up and running the Schoolwear Association.

“David is known for his enthusiasm, his passion, his ability to speak his mind,’ judges said. ‘He has given unstintingly of his time and his expertise.”







Tuesday, 19 September 2017

School Uniform promotes wellbeing


An expert in child and adolescent psychosocial development has said that school uniform may have significant benefits for wellbeing in young people.

In research commissioned by not for profit organisation, the Schoolwear Association, Dr. Barbie Clarke, lead researcher for specialist research agency Family Kids and Youth, carried out focus groups with 50 young people in an Essex school.

“School uniform seems to play an important role in establishing identity among young people of this age,” she said.  “It can protect adolescents from being picked on or being the subject of banter that verges on bullying. This creates a greater degree of self-confidence, and ultimately helps with the fundamental adolescent need to be accepted by others.”

The students involved in the research shared some fascinating insights into how uniform helps to reduce anxiety about their appearance and lessen worry around fitting in with their peers.  Said one year 9 pupil: “With uniform, you can’t be judged.

“[Without uniform] everyone would be competing about what the style is, what the trend is, what you need to wear, I think there’d be more bullying as well and it would be more stress in the morning”

Many of the young people said they would feel under pressure to wear branded clothing and footwear – ‘like Nike and Adidas’ – to fit in and avoid being bullied if there was no school uniform.  This, they said, could pose problems for those who couldn’t afford these kind of brands but also for those who could.  No-one wanted to be labelled ‘the rich kid’.

Interestingly, the research also backed up the idea that uniform can put children in the right mindset for school.   As one year seven boy commented: “Imagine sitting in a maths lesson wearing your own clothes!  I don’t feel like I’d do much work in the whole day if I didn’t have to wear uniform.”

The focus groups were carried out on the back of a poll in which 75% of teachers said they had seen an increase in the number of children with mental health problems in the last five years, with two thirds feeling that kids face increased pressure about fashion and appearance. 

At a time when young people are under more pressure than ever to buy into fashion and ‘look right’, the Schoolwear Association wanted to find out what role, if any, uniform plays in promoting children’s well-being in school.

David Burgess, Chairman of the association said: “We have carried out previous research which shows that wearing school uniform can lead to improved learning, better behaviour and greater safety for pupils.  We have also demonstrated that uniform is excellent value for money when compared with everyday children’s clothing.

“This is the first time we have looked at its effect on well-being and it’s clear from the research that both teachers and young people think school uniform helps students to feel like they fit in, avoid bullying and establish their identity within the boundaries set by their school.  We think every child deserves that.”

The true cost of cheap uniform


"25p an hour: That's the pitiful amount this mother is paid to make bargain school uniforms for British children... it's so little she can only afford to see her OWN son twice a year." - from the Daily Mail
 
 
The Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, David Burgess, is calling on MPs, parents and schools to consider the true cost of cheap uniform.


In a letter to the Daily Mail, Mr. Burgess thanked reporters of a special report for highlighting that women in Bangladesh are being paid poverty wages to make bargain basement school clothing for some of Britain’s biggest supermarkets. (Mail Online 17 September 2017)


He said: ‘we hope the Labour MP Sarah Jones has read your investigation. Last week, she said it was “incredibly frustrating” for parents to see supermarkets offering very low prices when schools required items to be bought from school uniform specialists.


‘We remind schools, parents and the MP that members of the Schoolwear Association sign up to a Code of Conduct that requires them to source clothing ethically.


‘A well balanced good quality uniform, looks better and lasts longer than off-the-shelf clothing. It helps to bring improved learning, better behaviour and greater safety. It reduces peer pressure at a time when teachers are seeing growing mental health issues in class. And it does not come with the sinister hidden price tag of exploitation.’

 
Perhaps the most shocking revelation in the report was that mothers working in atrocious conditions to make the uniform we can buy for less than a cup of coffee cannot afford to send their own children to school.


Mr Burgess concluded ‘When it comes to paying a fair price for uniform, we passionately believe every child – whether in Britain or Bangladesh - is worth it.’
 

Read the Daily Mail article here