Uniform debate

Posted on 17th September 2019

Alistair McConville, Bedales Director of Learning & Innovation, is quoted extensively in an article on school uniforms, published recently in the i newsletter.

Pupils returning to school saw news stories about some being disciplined because their uniforms were not up to scratch. Students in Sussex and Norfolk were seemingly threatened with isolation for wearing inappropriate trousers, whilst others were reportedly sent home from a school in Liverpool for wearing the wrong shoes.

Supporters of uniforms say they help build a sense of identity and cohesion in a school, and put young people in a frame of mind where they are ready to study. However, others are more sceptical. Sending students home might see them miss something important in class, according to Neil Roskilly, chief executive of the Independent Schools Association, whilst the Education Endowment Foundation says there is no robust evidence that introducing a school uniform will, by itself, improve academic performance, behaviour, or attendance.

Alistair is quoted as saying that, at best, a school uniform makes no positive difference and, at worst, can be a waste of institutional energy. He also believes there is a more sinister side to uniforms as an instrument of control. He explains: “The narrative is that uniformity is a good thing. I think that cuts against what modern society needs, which is creative individuals who think of new things…we don’t need clones.”

The full article can be read online here.

Alistair McConville | The Bedales difference | i news