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Dress codes for teachers

Discussion in 'Education news' started by loodle1, May 28, 2016.

  1. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    About 12 years ago, a friend expressed interested in a vacancy at a small local independent school. The head gave her a tour of the building, a copy of the job description and a few sheets of A4. Later perusal of these convinced her that the head was a control freak to be avoided at all costs.

    The staff dress code prescribed every detail imaginable, even down to the colour of tights. Trousers were forbidden, as were cardigans, and low-heeled court shoes were the only approved style of footwear. When out and about at weekends, etc, staff were reminded that they still represented the school, and were therefore expected to continue to dress formally in case they were seen by pupils or parents. My friend didn't apply for the job.
    agathamorse likes this.
  2. lmnop

    lmnop Occasional commenter

    I always find it harder to decide what to wear on non-uniform days. A lot easier to grab a shirt and tie on normal days.
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    At least they were up front about it - allowed the applicant to make an educated decision as to whether they wanted to work there.
  4. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Hoodies are banned, more or less on pain of death, at my son's school. Until they get their year 11 hoodies in January and then that is their 'uniform'. And a letter came round about what they should wear for exams, and it was anything they like as it's important to be comfortable. They seem to be saying that their normal unioform isn't comfortable, and that normally that doesn't matter.

    My best teacher looked like a tramp. He probably wore a jacket but it was hard to tell. He was a fabuolous teacher, had excellent discipline and really high standards. He taught a minority and usually unpopular subject, but had a large O level class, driven by his enthusiasm and high expectations. I also had useless teachers who looked smart. What teachers wear, as long as it's decent, is not something I can get excited about.

    Schools often have a very wrong idea about what 'business wear' is these days, too, probably because they've not got much experience. I've seen several acadamies with the most vile air hostess type uniforms which they claim are preparing their pupils for what they'll have to wear 'in business'. My husband is a senior manager in a very standard sort of company. He wears a casual (I do iron it!) shirt, coloured trousers, and sometime s t-shirt and canvas shoes. He might wear a more sober shirt iof he's meeting clients but even then he's unlikely to wear a tie, and NEVER a suit. In his office veryone wears what they want. They seem to get the job done.
  5. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    But they do say such things @ValentinoRossi

    They most certainly do. They say it of the pupils. They say it of uniform Even though it's untrue. It's still widely touted as the truth. If Wilshaw says it then (some) people listen. Even though studies in the US found it was not linked to better results.

    At Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, East London, held up as a shining example of how to raise standards in a poor area, a strict discipline policy incorporates a traditional school uniform. Head teacher Sir Michael Wilshaw, who helped design the grey and red blazers, says that the uniform adds to pupils' sense of self-worth.

    It has been a similar story at Sydney Russell Comprehensive School in Dagenham, famous locally for its bright green blazers. "I expect pupils to take pride in belonging to their school by wearing correct school uniform and wearing it smartly and properly," says headmaster Roger Leighton. A strictly applied dress code has been accompanied by a quadrupling in exam pass rates. The uniform is not stuffy or old-fashioned. White shirts and ties have recently been replaced by modern polo shirts.

    On the other side of London, pupils at Fulham Cross Girls' School in Parsons Green have recently exchanged sweatshirts for black blazers with a pink trim – at their own request. Pupils "walked taller" as a result of the change, according to head teacher Carol Jones, who oversaw the introduction of the new uniform. Again, exam results improved significantly after the change.

    And here's OFSTED in 2014 linking teachers' dress to results. Again incorrect.

    Some teachers at Acland Burghley School in Camden, North London were singled out for wearing clothes that were "too casual" and risked undermining standards, the inspectors said.

    After a visit to the comprehensive, which specialises in the arts, they warned that the teachers’ failure to dress smartly could have a negative effect upon pupils' work.
    agathamorse likes this.
  6. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter


    One TP of mine was in a deprived inner-city school where it was prudent not to dress too smartly, formally or in a suit as it alarmed the children. They equated such dress with social services / police / outside organisations best avoided. Behaviour went wobbly if your clobber was too smart. :(
  7. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Looking at those pictures from Finland I was struck by the quality of the artwork on the walls. Fancy wasting times on painting when they could have been practising tests. Fools!
  8. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Then why the discussion? Schools these days are all about academic achievement.
    slingshotsally likes this.
  9. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I taught at a school who gave similar advice and told me to dress less formally/smartly for the same reasons.
  10. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    They probably have specialist art teachers - you know, those qualified to teach the subject - rather than 'you're a qualified teacher, you can teach anything', or 'you're not a teacher, but hey, you can deliver art cheaply'. Even as a primary teacher, I always felt some subjects needed to be taught by people who could actually do it themselves: art, music, MFL, perhaps PE, in order for the children to be properly taught.
  11. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I started off in Primary and ended in Special. Smart is no good. It's not practical. You have to throw yourself into things.

    And I certainly taught in schools where the parents were put off by fancy-schmancy. You'd have been mocked.

    "You got to go to Court today, Miss?"
  12. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    Yup, had that one.

    Same child asked if I could give her the resources to create a "Glad you're home from prison, Dad" card. I truly had my eyes opened in that school. :( Some children should receive medals just for turning up in the morning.
  13. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    An excellent primary school where I do occasional supply has no uniform. Academic standards are very high, behaviour is good, it's hugely oversubscribed. Why the the obsession with being corporate? I don't want to see children in naff polyester Mao suits or my colleagues limping around in high heels and itching in embarrassing places under their tights in summer. We are adults.

    For that matter I recall a colleague, who simply had no dress sense. She just could not put a coordinated outfit together. Plaid skirt in blues and greens with a yellow and orange floral blouse and a purple seqinnned cardi being her signature kit for winter. The summer short oompa lumpa dungarees with saucer sized red buttons, ankle boots and neon shirt combo was unforgettable. She was a 4'10" high and equally wide bundle of enthusiasm, who could handle a class. She had the plummiest of posh accents, a penchant for heavy rock music and the kids sat up and listened because she was so remarkable. The wacky gear was her trademark. I forgot to mention the floor length brown pinafore dress in upholstery grade corduroy which weighed more than she did. I was fascinated. She's still working, still making a fashion statement. Grayson Perry without the irony.
    My salary doesn't cover the gym fees that keep our managers looking snappy in their LKBennett and Hobbs gear with £100 Toni and Guy haircuts.
    I know the code, I just can't afford it.
  14. ValentinoRossi

    ValentinoRossi Star commenter


    Despite the kn0bne55 of our regulation dress code for both staff and students, we are certainly not an academic sausage factory. I don’t want to post specific details, but suffice to say that we have a good number of children for whom standardised "academic achievement" is definitely not an option.
    slingshotsally and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  15. ValentinoRossi

    ValentinoRossi Star commenter

    Sounds like she has a brilliant sense of style, to me! Those on here who know me would hardly describe me as "corporate".

    Apologies if I have posted seemingly confusing comments. I do think it is important for teachers to dress smartly. Interpretation of that can, of course, vary. It's largely subjective.
    slingshotsally and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  16. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    I have met you, Val, and can honestly state that your dress sense is gorgeous, and most definitely not "corporate"!:) Lucky girl.

    I have the dress sense of a tree sloth....:(
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    A tree sloth? That's an achievement.

    I dress like a troubled teen with an unerring eye for what doesn't suit her c. 1971.

    Which is what I was. In 1971.
    slingshotsally and rosievoice like this.
  18. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Gove claimed (in his 2010 education white paper) that there was "academic evidence" to show that pupils behaved better if schools introduced "traditional blazer and tie uniforms" though.

    I asked DFE if they could let me know what the "academic evidence" was. Initially they sent me some academic journal articles, both referring to US, neither saying what Gove claimed.

    I asked if that was the all the "academic evidence" there was. It quickly became clear that they had no evidence at all and every time I asked some poor DFE intern was sent off to trawl the internet looking for it.

    About 10 more articles later I pointed out to them that (a) none of the articles referred specifically to "traditional blazer and tie uniforms" and (b) mostly the research was about turning around failing schools where introducing a new uniform was just one small part of an extensive range of changes introduced by new heads. None of the research even attempted to isolate the impact of school uniform on its own.

    At that point they stopped replying to me! :(
  19. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    There is no evidence and yet, the notion having been aired in the DM, it is widely held to be the gospel truth. Go figure.
  20. varcolac

    varcolac Occasional commenter

    I interviewed at Acland Burghley and had read that Ofsted report. I rocked up in a three-piece suit, pocket square and socks that matched my tie. I looked like an advertisement for Savile Row. Didn't get the job, but all teachers I saw seemed relatively professionally dressed. Overabundance of skinny ties among male staff members, which I disapprove of for reasons I can't quite fathom.

    Students at Acland didn't wear uniform either. Not sure if Ofsted said that impacted their work as well.

    Three-piece suit is how I generally dress for school unless it's a trip where I'm likely to get mud on my brogues. Then it's jeans and a sweatshirt with Dr Martens's finest industrial-strength footwear. I don't expect everyone to dress like they're going to a wedding, but I like wearing a nice suit. Makes me stand taller, have higher expectations, and in all honesty, I think I look good.

    Plus the waistcoat gives me somewhere to hide biscuits and pens.
    ValentinoRossi and sabrinakat like this.

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