3 reasons why wearing a school uniform benefits our students
In the Netherlands, wearing a school uniform is not very common compared to countries like the UK, Australia, Japan, Thailand or South Africa. So it has surprised many people here to see students heading to international schools in uniforms. At Amity International School Amsterdam, we have a school uniform policy that we feel benefits the student’s learning. Please find below some of the reasons why we believe wearing a uniform contributes to a better learning environment.
1. Cohesion and equality
Wearing a school uniform means that students wear the same clothing which creates a level playing field amongst them. This promotes equality and reduces peer pressure and bullying. Opponents of school uniforms say the uniforms promote conformity over individuality, however, we believe the uniform helps students to build profound relationships with their classmates based on their personality rather than the clothes they wear. Besides advocating for equality, having a school uniform also creates a sense of belonging and unity, and boosts school pride. Students identify their classmates by their clothes, encouraging this sense of cohesion. What we also notice in our school is that uniforms help new students to integrate faster into their year group and enhance the feeling of being part of the community.
2. Focus on Education
Research has found that students in schools with a uniform tend to display better behaviour in class than students that go to a school without a uniform. This is arguably due to the discipline practised by wearing school uniforms. Students get less distracted during their lessons as they can focus on the content rather on what other people are wearing. Uniform policies save valuable class time because they are easier to enforce than a standard dress code and they may improve attendance and discipline. A study by researchers at the University of Houston found that the average absence rate for girls in middle and high school decreased by 7% after the introduction of uniforms, and behavioural problems lessened in severity. (1) Moreover, school uniforms make getting ready for school easier, which can improve punctuality and encourages professionalism. Later in life, students might be expected to dress and look a certain way depending on the career path they decide to follow. People who are not in favour of school uniforms say that the uniforms restrict students from expressing themselves. In Sweden, a government agency called the School Inspectorate determined that uniforms were a human rights violation because “dress and appearance should be considered an individual expression, decided by the students themselves.”(2) At Amity Amsterdam, we believe that students should be given the opportunity to express themselves through action creative assignments, the subjects and classes they select. Uniforms are in no way meant as suppression of student speech. Student voice is actively encouraged at school.
At Amity Amsterdam, the safety of our students is of utmost importance. We have invested in visible and invisible measures to keep our students safe. Wearing a school uniform helps to identify children and teenagers at a distance as members of the school. On day trips away, younger children can easily be spotted among crowds thanks to their uniforms. This can be especially helpful when making school trips at the same time as other schools, where large crowds of children mix with one another.
There are many more arguments pro and con school uniforms. We believe that continuing the discussion with our students is key. In choosing a new supplier of our uniforms, we have included our Senior School students in the process to ensure they agree with the reasoning and the choices made. This led to very constructive conversations and increased student participation, which is what we want to stimulate at our school.