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Back to school - Should your child be in uniform or not?

PUBLISHED: 14:41 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:13 10 June 2020

Children look smart in uniform and psychologists say wearing it is good for learning and a sense of community. But with parents expected to wash it everyday schools are divided over their policies during the Covid-19 pandemic Picture: DGLimages/Getty Images/iStockphoto/Dean Hindmarch

Children look smart in uniform and psychologists say wearing it is good for learning and a sense of community. But with parents expected to wash it everyday schools are divided over their policies during the Covid-19 pandemic Picture: DGLimages/Getty Images/iStockphoto/Dean Hindmarch

This image is Copyright of Dean Hindmarch

As year 10s prepare for a return to the classroom on Monday schools across Norfolk are divided over the issue of school uniform.

North Norfolk Academy Trust CEO Dr Andrew Richardson is adamant that abandoning school uniform is the safest and most practical choice for children in school while coronavirus remains a risk Photo: KAREN BETHELLNorth Norfolk Academy Trust CEO Dr Andrew Richardson is adamant that abandoning school uniform is the safest and most practical choice for children in school while coronavirus remains a risk Photo: KAREN BETHELL

While some are strictly adhering to pre-lockdown regimes requiring students to present themselves in full tie and blazer, others are suspending policies to allow students to wear their own clothes.

At Flegg High Ormiston Academy in Martham leaders are telling families it is business as usual when it comes to what they will be wearing.

In a letter to parents, the school said uniform expectations were unchanged and that anyone who was short on items could borrow second-hand ones that had been donated.

It said: “Guidance recommends that ideally uniform should be clean each day.

Stalham High School where children in year 10 will return to school on June 15 wearing their own clothes instead of uniform. The school says it is the safest option during the pandemic Picture: ANTONY KELLYStalham High School where children in year 10 will return to school on June 15 wearing their own clothes instead of uniform. The school says it is the safest option during the pandemic Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“From June 15 it is anticipated the non-essential shops (eg uniform and shoe stores) will re-open and if you have been unable to use online stores we have a range of good quality second hand uniform that we can offer free of

charge.”

MORE: Plans for all primary pupils to return to school ‘to be dropped’

Meanwhile Caister Academy has ditched uniform altogether.

It says pupils should attend on their designated day in non-school uniform, which should be clean for each day.

At Stalham and Sheringham High Schools, pupils can come in their own clothes and are being discouraged from wearing uniform, even if that is their preference.

Andrew Richardson, head at Sheringham, executive head at Stalham and North Norfolk Academy Trust CEO, said the school had moved away from uniform since March 23.

He said doing anything else was “not practical and safe”.

He added that at the end of the school year uniform was often looking “less than fantastic” and didn’t fit as well as it once did and that he couldn’t expect parents to buy more at this stage.

Kate Williams, principal at Flegg High Ormiston Academy in Martham, where students are expected to stick to strict uniform rules when they return to the classroom on June 15 Photo: OATKate Williams, principal at Flegg High Ormiston Academy in Martham, where students are expected to stick to strict uniform rules when they return to the classroom on June 15 Photo: OAT

Although no Year 10 would be in for more than two days in a row, those with a limited number of items might struggle to refresh them.

He said it did not make sense for parents to be washing uniform every day at the advised temperatures which would soon render some garments unwearable.

“We have weighed everything up and we are being pretty pragmatic,” he added.

“They should be wearing different clothes everyday and things they can launder.

Flegg High students put together a special display to show solidarity during lockdown. They are expected to wear normal school uniform when they go back on June 15. Other schools have taken a different approach Picture: Flegg High Ormiston AcademyFlegg High students put together a special display to show solidarity during lockdown. They are expected to wear normal school uniform when they go back on June 15. Other schools have taken a different approach Picture: Flegg High Ormiston Academy

“Our uniform at Sheringham is easily laundered and Stalham we have ties and blazers.”

At Lynn Grove in Gorleston, the regime is different again.

There students “will be wearing a uniform modified to accommodate additional laundering” which means full school uniform minus the tie with the blazer being optional.

No specific government guidance has been issued around school uniform.

Flegg High students put together a special display to show solidarity during lockdown. Students there are asked to come back to school in their normal academy uniforms Picture: Flegg High Ormiston AcademyFlegg High students put together a special display to show solidarity during lockdown. Students there are asked to come back to school in their normal academy uniforms Picture: Flegg High Ormiston Academy

MORE: ‘Best day ever’ at village school as pupils return to classroom

However the Schoolwear Association says wearing it helps to maintain “a strong sense of community” and “create a positive mindset for learning.”

Association co-chair, Matthew Easter, said: “Government guidance remains very supportive of the benefits of uniform and this certainly echoes with the feedback we receive from school, parents, and pupils.

“The need to maintain a strong sense of community across schools is critical with the majority of children separated from each other during closures, and we think that maintaining a familiar routine will be even more important when pupils return to the classroom with unusual social distancing measures.

“We also believe that wearing uniform is the safest option for everyone whilst there is still a risk of Covid-19.

What are the pros and cons of children going back to school in uniform during the pandemic? Norfolk schools are divided on the issue Picture Getty ImagesWhat are the pros and cons of children going back to school in uniform during the pandemic? Norfolk schools are divided on the issue Picture Getty Images

“Wearing uniform provides a visual distinction between school and home life each day and reinforcing the fact that students should remove it for washing at the end of each day during this period will help to limit the potential risk of transference of Covid-19.”

Psychologist Dr Ameerah Khadaroo, from the University of the Arts London, has said that wearing uniform can foster a sense of togetherness while physically children have to remain apart, adding that wearing it could help children adapt to the new context of schooling more smoothly.

Students in Years 10 and 12 will start returning to school from Monday for some face-to-face contact.

For most it will mean only going to school on occasion, as schools work out the best way to manage social distancing.

Some schools are operating shorter days while others are implementing single-subject timetables to minimise movements around the corridors.


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