Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Day 4 : Uniform

Some sort of gremlin in my home blog looked like derailing my 28 day blogging challenge in its infancy so I've created a new space for my challenge posts.

If you're a random reader and desperately want to see the first 3 days, or if you're one of my students checking for proof of my diligence and persistence in sticking to this challenge, the earlier posts are here .

I was hoping for a positive post today but I have a teacher grumble bubbling so I may as well spend my 28 minutes getting it out on the table.

My personal opinion on school uniform is irrelevant because I'm the Assistant Principal in a school that has a uniform policy and so part of my job is to ensure that the policy is adhered to. Sometimes I think kids think teachers make up uniform rules just to annoy them and dampen their sense (or lack) of style but in fact, school uniform is set by the School Council, a guiding, governing body to which all parents are entitled and welcome to join. These (voluntary) parents work very hard on behalf of all the parents in the school and one of their tasks is to set the uniform policy.

As a parent I know how hard it can be to get your kids to wear the correct uniform. For awhile my eldest child refused to wear the regulation black, leather lace ups when she was at school and every morning was a battlefield. I can remember feeling a fair bit of angst toward the VCE Coordinator at the time but now that I'm the one who has to be the mean guy at school, I've changed my tune. Thankfully child 2 and 3 were much more compliant in the uniform stakes and so since I've been the AP I've never had to have an argument with myself about what they're wearing!

It's my fervent hope that if kids and their parents understand that uniform is actually their decision, voted on by their own representatives for the common good and not a power play vendetta from teachers (who, for the record, would rather spend their time in the dentist chair than arguing about uniform) then everyone might just take the time to get the right kit and wear it to school, every day.

The upside to this angst is the occasional giggle I get from some of the excuses on the notes we get about why kids are out of uniform. Confidentiality and professionalism restrict me from revealing them on this blog, but suffice to say risking skin cancer by not wearing a hat because it could exacerbate your dandruff may or may not be an example of one of the sillier ones.

Once upon a time cost was a factor in providing uniform but, having just bought Taine 5 new white shirts for $3 each in K Mart, I know this is not the case. His leather Grosby shoes from Payless were $39, less than half the price of his runners. It would cost me a whole lot more to deck him out in a Nike hoodie and canvas shoes! Granted, he has lost his expensive school jumper a few times but the colder it gets the better he becomes at finding it because otherwise we let him shiver.

Whether you agree with the principle of uniforms or not, abiding by school policy is real life practice for the workplace. There's not many employers who would welcome a scruffily dressed, out of uniform, argumentative employee. Just as a specific register of language is appropriate for the work/school place, so is a dress code and respect for authority.

As for the hat wearing, well I've talked about that plenty of times before. Not providing your child with a hat is irresponsible and I will never apologize for enforcing our Sunsmart policy. If they lose their hat, buy them another one. Write their names on them. Buy two! We have kids in year 12 who are still wearing the hats I wrote their names on with puffy paint in yr 5. It's possible.

In an attempt to help kids out and save some angst I personally bought 7 pairs of school shoes, 20 pairs of socks and 2 jumpers out of my own pocket last year. I'm over it.

And that is my 28 minutes for today.

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