SUNS 53 and 54 “SCHOOL UNIFORMS” and “DISCIPLINE A POSITIVE?”

Note:

I have now been writing a weekly column for the Suns Newspapers, community papers for Darwin, palmerston and Litchfield for just over twelve months.

Someone suggested that there would be an end to topics with appeal to newspaper readers. Not so. Education is never-ending in terms of its topical nature.

I aim to write in a way that is timely, relevant and contributive to the educational debate.

Feedback is always welcome. In addition to my blogsite I am at henry.gray@bigpond.com

_____________________

UNIFORMS ADD TO PUBLIC SCHOOL CHARACTER

Much has been said and written about school uniforms for Northern Territory school students. The issue has been more newsworthy than for other States and Territories. Wearing of school uniforms by children attending interstate government schools has been the accepted practice for many years. The issue for NT students at government schools is more recent and the policy still developing.

Fact or myth

A story that did the rounds after Cyclone Tracy’s devastating impact in 1974, was that in students had worn uniform. However, this practice was discontinued in the aftermath of Tracy and not revisited until much later. This may or may not have been the case. However, the fact there was no dress code for government school students, certainly set them apart in appearance from their private school counterparts.

The issue of student dress was left to individual schools and their communities. Some made more effort than others to develop policies on dress standards. It was common practice for schools, where dress mattered, to mention and reward ‘most uniform conscious’ classes at school assemblies and in newsletters. In some schools ‘mascots’ were awarded to the best dressed class of the week.

Difficulties

This school based approach generally worked well. However there were students and parents who resisted the push on dress standards. On occasion, complaints were raised to the department by these parents, with principals generally being instructed to support non-compliant students. This made it very difficult for principals and councils who were trying to set dress standards through promoting the wearing of school uniforms. The biggest issue was encouraging uniform wearing students, while having to accommodate that minority excused from compliance. Lack of system backing did not help. Principals and school leaders had to manage the issue on their own.

Policy change

In July 2009, the NT Education Department introduced a school uniform policy, applicable to students for primary and middle schools. Wearing of school uniform became compulsory, with exceptions for students on cultural or religious grounds. Safety and health requirements included the need for enclosed hats and enclosed shoes. The introduction of this policy had some positive results.

* It lifted the standards of student appearance.
* It added to the identification of students with their schools.
* It built the levels of pride children felt for their schools.
* Students become aware that levels of behaviour, especially in public, needed to reflect school standards.
* In many cases it reduced costs to parents. School uniforms were cheaper than alternative dress.

While primary school students accepted uniform as including school shirts, shorts, skirts or dresses, middle primary students were generally content with shirts only. That amounts to partial uniform compliance, meaning there is still some way to go in developing standards to meet the full dress code.

Until recently, Senior School students (years 10 -12) were free to wear, within reason, whatever they liked. Uniforms are now being considered for senior students and not before time. Senior Secondary students should be representing their schools in the same way as their younger peers. (38)

Appearance counts

Attitude toward wearing school uniforms can be a strong selling point for parents and enrolling students. In this respect, private school students have outshone their public school counterparts for many years. The non-government school sector is still well on top in this domain. Adherence to working policies on school uniform requirements, sells schools to many parents.

Compared with interstate government schools, our attitude to the wearing of school uniform is still quite cavalier. It is an area in which improvement needs to be continued, for the sake of public schools and their image.
_____________________

SUN 53 29 – 2014

UNIFORMS ADD TO PUBLIC SCHOOL CHARACTER

Much has been said and written about school uniforms for Northern Territory school students. The issue has been more newsworthy than for other States and Territories. Wearing of school uniforms by children attending interstate government schools has been the accepted practice for many years. The issue for NT students at government schools is more recent and the policy still developing.

Fact or myth

A story that did the rounds after Cyclone Tracy’s devastating impact in 1974, was that in students had worn uniform. However, this practice was discontinued in the aftermath of Tracy and not revisited until much later. This may or may not have been the case. However, the fact there was no dress code for government school students, certainly set them apart in appearance from their private school counterparts.

The issue of student dress was left to individual schools and their communities. Some made more effort than others to develop policies on dress standards. It was common practice for schools, where dress mattered, to mention and reward ‘most uniform conscious’ classes at school assemblies and in newsletters. In some schools ‘mascots’ were awarded to the best dressed class of the week.

Difficulties

This school based approach generally worked well. However there were students and parents who resisted the push on dress standards. On occasion, complaints were raised to the department by these parents, with principals generally being instructed to support non-compliant students. This made it very difficult for principals and councils who were trying to set dress standards through promoting the wearing of school uniforms. The biggest issue was encouraging uniform wearing students, while having to accommodate that minority excused from compliance. Lack of system backing did not help. Principals and school leaders had to manage the issue on their own.

Policy change

In July 2009, the NT Education Department introduced a school uniform policy, applicable to students for primary and middle schools. Wearing of school uniform became compulsory, with exceptions for students on cultural or religious grounds. Safety and health requirements included the need for enclosed hats and enclosed shoes. The introduction of this policy had some positive results.

* It lifted the standards of student appearance.
* It added to the identification of students with their schools.
* It built the levels of pride children felt for their schools.
* Students become aware that levels of behaviour, especially in public, needed to reflect school standards.
* In many cases it reduced costs to parents. School uniforms were cheaper than alternative dress.

While primary school students accepted uniform as including school shirts, shorts, skirts or dresses, middle primary students were generally content with shirts only. That amounts to partial uniform compliance, meaning there is still some way to go in developing standards to meet the full dress code.

Until recently, Senior School students (years 10 -12) were free to wear, within reason, whatever they liked. Uniforms are now being considered for senior students and not before time. Senior Secondary students should be representing their schools in the same way as their younger peers. (38)

Appearance counts

Attitude toward wearing school uniforms can be a strong selling point for parents and enrolling students. In this respect, private school students have outshone their public school counterparts for many years. The non-government school sector is still well on top in this domain. Adherence to working policies on school uniform requirements, sells schools to many parents.

Compared with interstate government schools, our attitude to the wearing of school uniform is still quite cavalier. It is an area in which improvement needs to be continued, for the sake of public schools and their image.

3 thoughts on “SUNS 53 and 54 “SCHOOL UNIFORMS” and “DISCIPLINE A POSITIVE?”

  1. Hmm it seems like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I
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    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything.
    Do you have any points for rookie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

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