Opinion: Rules are rules when it comes to uniforms

As somebody who adopts a permanently dishevelled look, I really don't have much room to talk about the appearance of others.

Blaise Tapp
Blaise Tapp

But seeing as everybody else is doing it, it’s only fair that I join in, regardless of whether or not I bear a passing resemblance to the imaginary lovechild of Michael Foot and Albert Steptoe.

It is the time of year that a nation spends a week tutting, while reading newspapers and watching the regional news and learning how a 14-year-old called Tyson has been put in detention because he has bulldogs shaved into his scalp, while young Aurora has been sent home because the headteacher disapproves of her nose ring. Or something along those lines.

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In the past week I’ve heard about kids receiving sanctions for wearing the wrong trousers, girls being turned away from class because their skirts are too short or the little chap who found himself in hot water because his dad spent his school shoe money on a pair of trainers instead.

These yarns make the news because they appeal to the inner snob in millions of us. How many of us have sided with the mum who sent her teen to double maths with a pink Mohican?

I suspect not a single one of us because, for most mums and dads, the issue of school uniform is rather straightforward: rules are rules. If the head sends out a note to tell parents that Doc Martens and eyeliner are banned then it is quite simple, our children don’t wear them.

But there is a rich undercurrent of stupid in the UK, one which compels people to think they can make their own rules and dress their children in a getup more befitting of an X Factor audition than Friday morning assembly.

Thanks to the wonders of wifi, there can be little confusion as to what any school’s policy on uniform is because it is all there online. Which is why I came to find myself in my local 24-hour superstore at 11pm one night last week.

On the eve of the new school term I was rudely reminded that not one of my eight year old’s 20 hairbands were of the required standard so off into the night I went. But I wasn’t alone – I saw at least one frantic looking father searching for size four school shoes on the shelf next to household appliances.

While it is true that schools don’t always get it right they do have an important job to do. Teaching the next generation is difficult enough thanks to the toughest financial constraints in living memory, so is it too much to ask for us to do our bit and send our children to school in the correct uniform?