Belfast Telegraph

Uniforms play a vital role in giving schools their identity

Editor's Viewpoint

Rows over school uniforms are not uncommon, with schools insisting that rules are followed to the letter and many parents taking the side of their children who want to express some individuality.

What marks the dispute at Breda Academy in Belfast as different is the number of parents - 250 - who have objected to the school's strict policy on uniform and hairstyles.

It can be argued that the policy on hairstyles may be somewhat restrictive given that it applies to teenage boys and girls who naturally want to experiment with their looks. As long as the styles are not obviously outlandish, there should be some room for manoeuvre on this issue.

However, the headmaster is correct to take a strong line on uniforms. The basic idea of a uniform, as the word suggests, is to ensure that all pupils have a similar look and that those from poorer backgrounds do not stand out.

But it has other purposes. Firstly it is the identity badge of the school. Secondly it instils in pupils the need for a smart appearance - something on which they will be judged when they enter working life.

Of course parents want to be supportive of their children and will be inclined to take their side if they feel they are being unduly pressurised by school authorities.

But they must also realise that their role includes teaching their children respect for rules and regulations.

They should do all in their power to encourage the school and pupils to work in harmony for their mutual benefit.

Creating an atmosphere of dissent is not a good start for a new school which is an amalgamation of two other schools.

Parents should take up the headmaster's invitation to join either the board of governors or the Parents Teachers and Friends Association.

That would provide a proper platform for discussion and influence rather than taking to social media where issues can easily become distorted or inflamed. That is to no one's benefit.

Belfast Telegraph

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