Editorial: Clear policy on uniforms makes sense

By Annemarie Quill


The school I went to had such a strict uniform policy that locals used to dob us in if we were seen on buses without our scarf. The instructions went right down to how we tied our shoe laces.

My mother bought me an age-14 blazer even though I was 5. I never did grow into it and held against her for years the fact I never saw my hands at school.

Now a parent myself, I understand her rationale. Uniform is a significant cost. Parents want to get bang for their buck.

I like seeing children in school uniform. It offers a sense of pride and identity with the school. It improves learning as when they don that uniform on they spring into school-mode.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

It puts everyone on a level playing field that is not populated with Nike trainers and Supre dresses.

I can understand that a school wants to protect its logo and for that reason insists that parents buy an official uniform.

If everyone starts turning up in their own versions of a blue shirt, it defeats the purpose.

But these are peculiar times. We are struggling through a three-year recession. Day-to-day living costs of housing, food and power are crippling the family budget. Today, Carly Gibbs reports on the milk price crisis and the soaring cost of electricity. Jobs are hard to come by and employers can't offer pay rises.

When this paper did its Foodbank fundraiser at Christmas, we reported that according to Ministry of Social Development figures, one in five families in the Bay live in relative poverty.

I am grateful for a uniform as it beats having to shell out for a daily wardrobe of mufti clothes that cost much more.

Yet schools' insistence on one uniform supplier removes the price competition. We cannot be sure it's a higher quality. Today, Genevieve Helliwell reports how a local shop has been selling parents replicas of Tauranga Boys' College uniform.

I can understand the college's reaction. The shop was wrong to deceive parents.

However, it does bring to light the issue of whether it makes sense for schools to choose one supplier which can set costs. If a shop can easily replicate the uniform, why not allow this to happen out in the open?

Huge retailers like the Warehouse and Postie Plus have economies of scale which allow them to offer inexpensive uniforms.

An option that would keep both school and parents happy could be that parents buy the school's trademarked logo from the school, but can get the blue shirt from a selection of stores that have to compete for our business through pricing.

When teachers report that an increasing number of Bay children are turning up at school without a breakfast or lunch, schools can cut a bit of slack in the uniform department while still retaining its integrity.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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