From the Principal

The School Uniform

“Schools should be schools and not fashion shows.”

From our Website: Uniform Information:

St Columba Anglican School aims to foster a sense of pride and belonging to the School and to encourage in students an understanding of the importance of personal appearance. The way in which the uniform is worn says a great deal about who we are as a community and how we value the School to which we belong. Compliance with the School Uniform Policy is considered an essential condition of enrolment and parents and carers are expected to support the School in ensuring their child(ren) abide by this policy.

Each parent who enrols their child at St Columba enters into a contract whereby the school offers certain services in terms of education and care. The obverse of this contract is that the parents accept that the school has the right to impose its rules, expectations of behaviour etc for the period of enrolment. While we are open to questions about how and why we come to these aspects of school life, we remain firm in our expectations of our students’ dress and behaviour.

We do not do this out of some outmoded view of the world, but because wearing a uniform actually has an impact on the students’ sense of belonging, may enhance learning capacity and increases onsite safety.

We acknowledge there are two sides to the compulsory school uniform argument.

  • “Civil libertarians assert that students’ freedoms of expression are being suppressed by requiring uniform dress.”

The alternative view is:

  • “The amount of angst involved in identifying and assembling outfits on a daily basis  occupies literally hours each week, as well as significant cost. Too much choice actually brings anxiety and inhibits our ability to make decisions. By taking choice in this matter out of students’ hands, we actually de-stress this aspect of their lives.”

As a student I spent significant periods of time trying (unsuccessfully) to get around my school’s uniform code. One of my teachers at the time pointed out that uniforms give students something small to argue against until they discover that when we leave school we will usually be formally or informally required to wear uniforms of one sort or another for the rest of our lives.

Note: It still irritates me somewhat, even today, to realise how right she was and how little I understood about the realities of life and how I would have to deal with them at the time.

Some of the reasons St Columba values and enforces our school uniform policy include:

  • In the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in the flamboyance of the everyday outfitting of school age kids. Price tags are in. In some neighborhoods, it’s the “thing” to wear the price tag on the garment. What you pay for something is the status symbol. There is heavy competition for dressing “right” and the peer pressure to perform and conform is incredible. We do not need this distraction at school.
  • School uniforms are a way to equalise the appearance of economic disparity and shift students’ focus (especially teens) off physical appearance and fashion, and onto learning.
  • Student attention at school should be on learning, rather than how they look when they are in that classroom. Uniforms can serve to shift the emphasis from competition back to academic performance and personal achievement.
  •  As with athletic teams, uniforms are worn for immediate identification and to inspire a feeling of “oneness.” Put on your team uniform and you suddenly belong. A sense of loyalty emerges from inside, as does an extra effort to perform at the student’s best.
  • It is human nature to express our personalities and creative talents. However, many students use their clothing as their sole creative outlet. Our students  need to learn that when channeled correctly, their individual flair can bloom within.
  • School uniforms act as an identifying tool for community members observing questionable behaviour before and after school.
  • Pragmatically, school uniforms make life simpler. The reality is that school uniforms make it just that bit easier to get to school on time!

“A shirt, tie and blazer may not be the ingredients for my favourite outfit, but if I were given the choice, I wouldn’t throw away the idea of school uniform. Wearing a uniform is a badge of pride, creates an identity for a school and is an important part of being a school student. Uniforms show that you are part of an organisation. Wearing it says we’re all in this together.

Some people believe that a school uniform can improve learning by reducing distraction, sharpening focus on schoolwork and making the classroom a more serious environment, allowing students to perform better academically.

Perhaps most importantly, a uniform means students don’t have to worry about peer pressure when it comes to their clothes. When everyone is dressed the same, worrying about what you look like isn’t so important. There is no competition about being dressed in the latest trend, which would put a great deal of financial pressure on students and parents. Potential bullies have one less target for their insults; it’s hard to make fun of what someone is wearing when you’re dressed exactly the same. ” The Guardian.

Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School
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