Skip to main content

The School Uniform Debate: Pros and Cons of School Uniforms

An assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of school uniforms

An assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of school uniforms

Cons of School Uniforms

1. School Uniforms Stifle Creativity and Individuality

There are many school uniforms pros and cons—one major argument against school uniforms often posed by students in the school uniforms debate is that school uniforms stifle creativity and freedom of expression.

Students may say they have a right to their individual identity and that school uniforms prevent them from expressing who they are. School is a time when students are just working out who they are—it is unfair and unwise to stop students from expressing who they are at this vital stage by stifling their options in their choice of clothing. This sends a contradictory message to students when, on the one hand, they're taught to be who they are and not pretend to be someone else while they are simultaneously being forced to dress exactly the same and to conform to strict unified standards.

2. School Uniforms Are Too Expensive

Another argument commonly raised by parents in the school uniform debate is how costly they are. Parents may argue that having to buy expensive school uniforms on top of regular after school and weekend clothes can become a financial burden on families, especially those with multiple school-aged children.

School is already expensive enough, with parents having to pay for school excursions, books, stationery, and transport. Adding the cost of often expensive school uniforms can make balancing the budget very difficult for many families, especially those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. School uniforms could be made cheaper, but doing so may affect the quality and comfort of the clothing. Ultimately, however, the greatest reason school uniforms are expensive is because they force parents to buy two separate sets of clothes—this is an inherent problem for school uniforms in that whenever school uniforms are required, two sets of wardrobes (doubling the cost) are required.

In conclusion, while many parents acknowledge that there are pros and cons to having school uniforms, the cost is still just too much for many families.

Girls lining up for class via Wikimedia Commons

Girls lining up for class via Wikimedia Commons

3. School Uniforms Infringe on Religious Freedom

School uniforms, as argued by religious organizations, may often lead to religious discrimination. These organizations may claim that, in turn, school uniforms infringe on a student's religious freedom. Because many faiths have quite specific dress standards that must be followed, school uniforms mean that many students aren't able to meet the dress standards of their particular faith. Often, due to the two codes of dress being contradictory, a student is forced to choose between following the school's rules and the rules of their faith.

While it may be possible for there to be exceptions to the uniform rules, this can often create more problems. In fact, these exceptions may be even less equalizing—for example, Islamic students' school uniforms mean that they are the only ones wearing something different, and this can lead to isolation, bullying, and cultural intolerance.

4. School Uniforms Are Uncomfortable and Impractical

School uniforms are uncomfortable to wear and impractical for learning. This is an argument raised in the debate against school uniforms by students having to wear them because the uniform may be made out of uncomfortable material. Students will also claim that they're better off wearing their own clothes.

School uniforms, for whatever reason, are often made of uncomfortable materials that students often despise. Therefore, it is reasonable to argue that if school children were allowed to pick their own clothes, then they would learn better because they feel more comfortable. The problem seems to be an inherent one—school uniforms need to be uncomfortable to keep costs down and achieve the desired look. Therefore, making a comfortable school uniform simply would not be possible.

When considering school uniform pros and cons, it is vital that the purpose of school uniforms is discussed. If uniforms don't meet the purpose they were intended for, then they should be abolished.

5. Dress Codes Are a Practical Alternative to School Uniforms

A practical alternative to school uniforms is instilling dress codes. This means that the school can continue to enforce dress standards without forcing all students to wear the exact same thing. This way, the school uniforms debate can be side-stepped completely.

While it is reasonable to want students to meet some minimum standards of dress, having a compulsory uniform is not necessary to achieve this. By having an enforceable dress code, it's possible to have the best of both worlds. All of the arguments against school uniforms simply fall away when you replace it with a dress code instead.

School Uniforms Pros and Cons Poll

Pros of School Uniforms

1. School Uniforms Create a Sense of Unity and Identity

School uniforms create a sense of identity and unity in a school. By having students dress the same way, you promote the idea that they are all part of something bigger than themselves individually. What's often overlooked in the school uniform debate is that uniforms often transform a school from simply a place that students attend to something they are part of.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Soapboxie

Uniforms allow students to give schools a visible identity—something physical and real which students can look to and be proud of. Uniforms create a definitive idea of 'us' as opposed to them (them being students from other schools).

Even though many students may outwardly hate wearing their uniform, they often take pride in it secretly, especially when confronted by students from other schools. Even those school uniforms that are particularly bad can create a sense of common suffering among students.

A student's education at the end of the day is a journey. Uniforms let them know that they are going through that journey with a cohort of their peers and that they aren't alone. This ultimately is a lesson and experience worth learning not only during one's schooling years but for the entirety of their life.

2. School Uniforms Ensure Children Are Wearing Practical Clothes

School uniforms ensure that all students attending a school wear practical clothes that are appropriate for both learning and play. School uniforms are specially designed to allow students to take part in a range of educational and sporting activities. It should also be considered that if children (maybe even some parents) were allowed ultimate control of their dress, there's a likely chance that they would choose fashionable clothes over practical clothes. In turn, this would hamper a child's ability to learn.

3. School Uniforms Prevent Bullying

School uniforms may act as a leveler between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds, ranging from rich to poor. Uniforms ensure that all students wear the same thing no matter what their financial situation is.

If students wore their everyday clothes, there might be a visibly obvious gap between what rich students wore and what poor students wore. One's clothing may very likely become an indicator of how well off a child's parents are. Children may inevitably be bullied if they weren't able to keep up with the latest and often more expensive fashion trends. At school, all students should be seen as equal amongst their peers.

Ensuring that children all wear the same uniform is one way to reach this goal. Students will find enough reasons to bully each other on their own—we don't need to give them any more reasons. Of all the pros and cons of school uniforms in the school uniforms debate, this argument is probably the strongest.

4. School Uniforms Are Necessary for Safety

School uniforms are vital for school safety in the 21st century—this needs to be remembered in any school uniforms debate. School uniforms allow teachers and staff to quickly distinguish between students and strangers. These days, schools have to be especially vigilant about predators and those who want to invade the schoolyard to take advantage of vulnerable students.

School uniforms make it easy to tell when there's a strange, non-uniformed, and possibly unwanted stranger in the schoolyard. This is easily spotted in time for staff to take appropriate action to protect the children. Additionally, uniforms can also help teachers keep track of students on excursions and allow them to spot their students even in large crowds of people.

5. School Uniforms Improve Behavior and Discipline

Another argument which should be raised in the school uniforms debate is that students learn respect for themselves and others by wearing uniforms. Uniforms teach students that what they wear and how they look matters and that it's not just all about their own personal preferences.

Ultimately, wearing a uniform can be seen as something that students do for others because they want to show respect for others by presenting themselves nicely. Wearing a school uniform also teaches students respect for authority because it's something they do because they are told to and because it distinguishes them from the teachers—those whose authority they are under.

6. School Uniforms Allow for Other Forms of Expression

School uniforms don't necessarily need to stifle a student's way of expressing their individualism. There are other ways for students to express themselves outside of just their apparel.

While schools should be about letting students express themselves and discover who they are, this process goes far beyond just one's clothing. Expression is often more internal than it is external. Therefore, what should be raised in school uniform debates is that clothing can work to stifle a student's individualism by letting them rely on their outward appearance too heavily.

Having a uniform can be viewed positively in the case of self-expression in that students can then express themselves in other ways. Not needing to worry about what to wear every day and in turn, this could result in avoiding pointless fashion trends which are often more conformist rather than individualistic.

School uniforms pros and cons poll

School Uniforms Pros and Cons: Summary Table

A quick summary of the arguments in the school uniforms debate


School uniforms prevent bullying

School uniforms are too expensive

School uniforms are impractical

School uniforms are the best way to ensure childrens clothes are practical

Students can express themselves in other ways

Limiting dress choices limits self expression

School uniforms allow students to take pride in their school

School uniforms are uncomfortable

School uniforms are needed for safety reasons

School uniforms infringe on a student's religious liberty

School uniforms increase discipline

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

Related Articles