Tuesday, 19 September 2017

School Uniform promotes wellbeing


An expert in child and adolescent psychosocial development has said that school uniform may have significant benefits for wellbeing in young people.

In research commissioned by not for profit organisation, the Schoolwear Association, Dr. Barbie Clarke, lead researcher for specialist research agency Family Kids and Youth, carried out focus groups with 50 young people in an Essex school.

“School uniform seems to play an important role in establishing identity among young people of this age,” she said.  “It can protect adolescents from being picked on or being the subject of banter that verges on bullying. This creates a greater degree of self-confidence, and ultimately helps with the fundamental adolescent need to be accepted by others.”

The students involved in the research shared some fascinating insights into how uniform helps to reduce anxiety about their appearance and lessen worry around fitting in with their peers.  Said one year 9 pupil: “With uniform, you can’t be judged.

“[Without uniform] everyone would be competing about what the style is, what the trend is, what you need to wear, I think there’d be more bullying as well and it would be more stress in the morning”

Many of the young people said they would feel under pressure to wear branded clothing and footwear – ‘like Nike and Adidas’ – to fit in and avoid being bullied if there was no school uniform.  This, they said, could pose problems for those who couldn’t afford these kind of brands but also for those who could.  No-one wanted to be labelled ‘the rich kid’.

Interestingly, the research also backed up the idea that uniform can put children in the right mindset for school.   As one year seven boy commented: “Imagine sitting in a maths lesson wearing your own clothes!  I don’t feel like I’d do much work in the whole day if I didn’t have to wear uniform.”

The focus groups were carried out on the back of a poll in which 75% of teachers said they had seen an increase in the number of children with mental health problems in the last five years, with two thirds feeling that kids face increased pressure about fashion and appearance. 

At a time when young people are under more pressure than ever to buy into fashion and ‘look right’, the Schoolwear Association wanted to find out what role, if any, uniform plays in promoting children’s well-being in school.

David Burgess, Chairman of the association said: “We have carried out previous research which shows that wearing school uniform can lead to improved learning, better behaviour and greater safety for pupils.  We have also demonstrated that uniform is excellent value for money when compared with everyday children’s clothing.

“This is the first time we have looked at its effect on well-being and it’s clear from the research that both teachers and young people think school uniform helps students to feel like they fit in, avoid bullying and establish their identity within the boundaries set by their school.  We think every child deserves that.”

The true cost of cheap uniform


"25p an hour: That's the pitiful amount this mother is paid to make bargain school uniforms for British children... it's so little she can only afford to see her OWN son twice a year." - from the Daily Mail
 
 
The Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, David Burgess, is calling on MPs, parents and schools to consider the true cost of cheap uniform.


In a letter to the Daily Mail, Mr. Burgess thanked reporters of a special report for highlighting that women in Bangladesh are being paid poverty wages to make bargain basement school clothing for some of Britain’s biggest supermarkets. (Mail Online 17 September 2017)


He said: ‘we hope the Labour MP Sarah Jones has read your investigation. Last week, she said it was “incredibly frustrating” for parents to see supermarkets offering very low prices when schools required items to be bought from school uniform specialists.


‘We remind schools, parents and the MP that members of the Schoolwear Association sign up to a Code of Conduct that requires them to source clothing ethically.


‘A well balanced good quality uniform, looks better and lasts longer than off-the-shelf clothing. It helps to bring improved learning, better behaviour and greater safety. It reduces peer pressure at a time when teachers are seeing growing mental health issues in class. And it does not come with the sinister hidden price tag of exploitation.’

 
Perhaps the most shocking revelation in the report was that mothers working in atrocious conditions to make the uniform we can buy for less than a cup of coffee cannot afford to send their own children to school.


Mr Burgess concluded ‘When it comes to paying a fair price for uniform, we passionately believe every child – whether in Britain or Bangladesh - is worth it.’
 

Read the Daily Mail article here

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Teachers see an increase in mental health problems in children

 
  • 75% of teachers think more children have mental health issues than five years ago
  • Two thirds think kids face increased pressure about fashion and appearance
  • Eight out of ten say good school uniform could help reduce bullying
  • Children say uniform helps to reduce anxiety about their appearance and worry about fitting in with their peers
 
New research by the Schoolwear Association has revealed 75% of teachers think that more children have mental health issues than five years ago.
 
 
We commissioned two independent researcher companies, OnePoll and Family Kids and Youth, to explore teachers’ and young people’s views on mental health issues and their link to appearance, identity and bullying in schools.
 
 
Two thirds of the teachers surveyed by OnePoll said they think kids face increased pressure about fashion and appearance with 83% agreeing that a good school uniform helps to reduce bullying among school children by reducing peer pressure around fashion and appearance.
 
 
Focus groups run by leading young people and children’s research agency, Family, Kids and Youth, revealed that young people backed school uniform and saw it as a force for good.
 
 
In a series of sessions, 50 twelve to fourteen year-olds in an East London school shared their views on how uniform helped to reduce anxiety about their appearance and worry about fitting in with their peers. Said one year 9 pupil: “With uniform, you can’t be judged.
 
“[Without uniform] everyone would be competing about what the style is, what the trend is, what you need to wear, I think there’d be more bullying as well and it would be more stress in the morning”
 
 
Many of the young people said they would feel under pressure to wear branded clothing and footwear – ‘like Nike and Adidas’ – to fit in and avoid being bullied if there were no school uniform. This, they said, could pose problems for those who couldn’t afford these kind of brands but also for those who could. No-one wanted to be labelled ‘the rich kid’.
 
 
Interestingly, the research also backed up the idea that uniform can put children in the right mindset for school. As one year seven boy commented: “Imagine sitting in a maths lesson wearing your own clothes! I don’t feel like I’d do much work in the whole day if I didn’t have to wear uniform.”
 
 
Dr Barbie Clarke, lead researcher for Family, Kids and Youth and expert in child and adolescent psychosocial development, said some important conclusions could be drawn from the research:  
 
“School uniforms seem to play an important role in establishing identity among young people of this age. It can protect adolescents from being picked on or being the subject of banter that verges on bullying. This creates a greater degree of self-confidence, and helps with the fundamental adolescent need to be accepted by others.”
 
 
Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, David Burgess, said: “We have carried out previous research which shows that wearing school uniform can lead to improved learning, better behaviour and greater safety for pupils. This is the first time we have really looked at its effect on well-being.
 
 
“We wanted to explore the role of school uniform in helping to tackle some of the issues – like bullying, identity and safety – that can contribute to mental health problems in young people.
 
 
“It’s clear from the research that both teachers and young people think school uniform has significant benefits for enabling young people to fit in, avoid bullying and establish their identity within the boundaries of the school environment. We think every child deserves that.”

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Schoolwear Association Chair renews his industry commitment


David Burgess has been re-elected as Chair of The Schoolwear Association, whose members help to clothe three-quarters of Britain’s children, with a renewed commitment to supporting the industry and promoting the benefits of school uniform. 


Daniel Turner, Managing Director at William Turner and Son, is the new Vice Chairman, taking over from Christine Campbell. Dan has been a member of the Executive since the launch of The Association in 2006 and has had responsibility for the marketing team throughout that period.


David Burgess comments: “It is essential for our industry to have a collective voice so that we can continue to promote the benefits of school specific uniform, as we believe it is not only a practical and cost effective solution for schools and parents but also drives a sense of belonging and pride for pupils. To make sure this message is heard, we need to maintain a strong industry association which represents the many small and medium sized businesses, from manufacturers to wholesalers and independent retailers, who make up this sector.”

 
The Schoolwear Association, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, represents British businesses involved in the manufacture and supply of school-specific uniform. Established in 2006, the association is run on an entirely voluntary basis by some of the sector’s most experienced professionals.


Monday, 24 April 2017

Counting the real value of uniform


Children’s clothing is big business. According to a report recently published by analysts Euromonitor, the growth of the children’s wear market here in the UK overtook that of both menswear and womenswear last year and it is set to grow by a further 13% in the next five years to around £6 billion.

Experts say that parents are both making more frequent purchases of ‘on-trend’ high street fashion items and investing in higher-end designer brands, drawn to ranges from the fashion designer brands as well as sport brands for their children.

It’s surprising then, that the cost of school uniform is still regularly reported to be a concern for parents who then purchase the top end items for their children to wear out of school.

Research carried out by Oxford Brookes University last year showed that, compared to everyday clothing items, good quality school uniform actually constitutes excellent value.  A survey of 2,000 parents, showed that a single garment to be worn out of school could cost an average of £46.58, that’s £13.10 more than the average cost of a full primary school uniform which came in at £33.48, excluding PE kit.

Part of the problem, in our view, is that expectations of what uniform should cost has been driven by the pricing in supermarkets, who often supply uniform during back to school time at reduced prices as a promotional tool to get customers through the door. These super-markets often then move onto the next promotion (usually Halloween) while the traditional suppliers to schools offer the stock all year around and cover all the sizes so that every child is suitably clothed.

Another key factor is buying habits. Because of the seasonal nature of the school year, many parents buy all their children’s uniform in one go, often at the last minute, which can make it feel like a large purchase. This usually only happens at the start of a child’s school life and again at year 7 when children start senior school, the rest of the time it is usually replacement items and of course the quality and durability of the garments is then very important.

Whilst Schoolwear suppliers and schools are very mindful about cost, we think that parents should be thinking differently about uniform – both in terms of what they are prepared to pay for it and the way they purchase it.

After all, these are the clothes our children wear most of the time – nearly 2,000 hours a year, in fact. Why would we want to invest less in that than the clothes they wear occasionally in the evenings or at weekends?

David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association

Schoolwear Association’s Chair shares his thoughts in Education Today


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Majority of parents back uniform


We often see parents complaining about school uniform in the media.  But on the whole, parents are in favour of uniform with many seeing it as an important form of discipline that needs to be fully utilised.

Over recent years, behaviour and setting traditional standards has been rising up the agenda for both schools and parents.

In a survey we carried out with YouGov in 2012, 79% of parents who have children at a state school where uniform is required said they believed school uniform encourages better behaviour.

Teachers reported that uniform is a useful tool for communicating school values, giving children a sense of belonging, and generating discipline.  It also makes it easier for teachers to keep tabs on their pupils outside of the school gates.  They said that wearing recognisable uniform is a helpful deterrent against bad conduct in public as they are easily reportable.

Parents also felt that uniform was a practical solution for school-wear with 89% of respondents agreeing that uniform constitutes better value than allowing them to wear their own clothes and 83% saying that uniform is more convenient than children wearing own clothes.

Supporters of uniform say that wearing uniform is a ‘classical conditioning’ process which places children in the right frame of mind for learning.  When children put school uniform on, they understand from an early age, they will be going to school to learn and concentrate, rather than simply to play.

David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association says “We know that a quality specialised uniform can create a strong identity for a school. We firmly believe that school uniform is part of our cultural heritage; it provides the wearer with many benefits including a ‘clothes discipline’ and the right mindset for school. A distinctive uniform can promote an invaluable sense of community within schools, aiding security and a sense of belonging, as well as improving attendance and general behaviour. We are happy that our research has shown that teachers and parents also recognise its value for their children and want to use it to its best advantage.”
 
Ends
 
All figures, unless otherwise stated are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2239 adults.  Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th – 19th March 2012.  The survey was carried out online.  The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Back to school

Back to school 
As another school term begins so does another round of power struggles between schools trying to implement uniform policies and parents and students who have to abide by them.
What is it about school uniform that brings out the rebellious streak in many of us?  Memories of our own time in school, perhaps?! I guess none of us like being told what to do…  
But taking a minute to remind ourselves of the benefits of school uniform – for students, teachers and parents – might help us to get some perspective.
No child should go to school feeling worthless because they can’t keep up with the latest styles. Uniform is the great leveller.  In an era of status brands and constantly changing fashion trends, uniform helps to create an even playing field for children of all backgrounds.  It removes the opportunity for clothing to be used as a status symbol, freeing children to focus on their education at school, rather than what they are wearing. 
Educators say this has a beneficial effect on behaviour and attainment, which is one of the key reasons they are so keen to adopt stricter uniform policies.
Although some may criticise the cost of smart school uniform, investing in a few quality items of uniform to last the year is far more economical than buying a whole new wardrobe every term – especially one that includes branded items, such as the latest trainers.  
And, aside from avoiding the drama of what to put on every morning, maybe wearing a uniform five days a week might make students appreciate their weekend fashions more!