School’s no place for fashion

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As somebody who adopts a permanently dishevelled look, I really don’t have much room to talk about the appearance of others.

But seeing as it is September and everybody else is doing it, it is only fair I join in.

It is the time of year that a nation spends a week tutting, while reading newspapers and watching the regional news and learning how a 14-year-old called Tyson has been put in detention because he has bulldogs shaved into his scalp. Or something along those lines.

It never ceases to amaze me how many of these stories crop up year-after-year, but in the past week I have heard about kids receiving sanctions from teachers for wearing the wrong trousers, girls being turned away from class because their skirts are too short or the little chap who found himself in hot water because his dad spent his school shoe money on a pair of trainers instead.

Although we have heard these yarns before, they make the news because they appeal to the inner snob in millions of us. For the vast majority of mums and dads across the land, the issue of school uniform is straightforward: rules are rules. If the head sends out a note to tell parents Doc Martens are banned then it is quite simple, our children don’t wear them.

But there is a rich undercurrent of stupid in this country, one which compels people to think they can make their own rules.

Thanks to the wonders of wifi, there can be little confusion as to what any school’s policy on uniform is because it is all there online. Which is why I came to find myself in my local 24-hour superstore at 11pm one night last week.

On the eve of the new school term, I was reminded that not one of my eight year old’s 20 hairbands were of the required standard. But I wasn’t alone – I saw at least one frantic looking father searching for a size four school shoes.

While it is true that schools don’t always get it right, they do have an important job to do. Teaching the next generation is difficult enough, thanks to the toughest financial constraints in living memory, so is it too much to ask for us to do our bit and send our children to school in the correct uniform?