Schools and uniforms

Pros and cons

A chara, – I don’t share Brenda Morgan’s confidence in the decision-making system on school rules (Letters, January 6th). Whatever about the dubious theory, the practice of enforcement of school uniform rules is anti-educational, oppressive of students, and a constant unnecessary cause of conflict in schools.

In my long experience as a teacher, almost 50 per cent of misbehaviour incidents are typically related to uniform and piercings infringements, blotting the school records of students, and wasting enormous amounts of time on the part of principals and year heads.

Students all over the country are harassed, penalised, detained, and reprimanded for wearing, for example, the wrong colour shoelaces or having the wrong colour soles.

Highly paid principals are wasting enormous amounts of time patrolling uniforms in military style line-ups, when there are far more important issues to deal with.


While some teachers relish the power it gives them over students, many teachers are cowed into implementing these ridiculous rules.

Students, teachers and parents have been institutionalised into thinking that they are necessary or serve some useful educational purpose.

There is no evidence to support this.

The usual superficial arguments about bullying and school identity don’t withstand any serious scrutiny. Students all over Europe manage fine without them.

The Irish Times reported that OECD director of education Andreas Schleicher criticised the Irish post-primary system for being good at producing “second-class robots” rather than people who can think for themselves (Carl O’Brien, “Irish schools need to modernise ‘20th-century’ approach to learning”, Education, March 22nd, 2021).

I suggest that uniforms are symbolic of this system, which overvalues conformity, and is more in line with the 1950s than the 21st century.

When are teachers, parents and students going to reject and resist this outdated nonsense? – Yours, etc,


Say No to School Uniforms,


Co Mayo.

Sir, – As a child of the 1960s and proud of my “clobber”, I disliked the idea of wearing the compulsory school uniform. That was until a teacher pointed out that the uniformity thus created meant that, at least as far as dress was concerned, all pupils started equal, regardless of economic background. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – I think uniforms are a bad idea because it’s hard to find your friends in the yard when everyone is wearing the same clothes. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.