Imagine a school with no uniforms? Did you know that there is more than one school in Brisbane that offers a uniform-free education? There aren’t many, but what is interesting is how different the schools are to each other in terms of the expectations of learning and achievement. With both primary and high school options for a uniform free education, this article highlights the schools on offer and the culture that unpins them.
Should students wear school uniforms?
The argument for student uniforms…Those who favour school uniforms argue that they reduce social pressures on kids to be ‘cool’ like their peers. In a world where bullying and isolation often stem from individual difference, reducing social pressures can be seen as a no-brainer.
Schools with uniform policies generally state that they help to promote identity, belonging, pride, school spirit, health and safety, positive community perceptions and affordability. In essence, they promote equality and recognition for the children.
Equally giving kids one less thing to think about in the morning, parents one less thing to deal with. It can often be thought of as the easier choice, though this thinking has been challenged in the recent discussions around gendered uniforms.
Regardless for most Australian students, going to school means wearing a school uniform. Compulsory school uniforms are integrated into the school rules and student uniforms are even something that is celebrated as a badge of honour.
The argument against student uniforms… On the other side of the argument, parents who back a no-uniform policy are also worrying about their child’s identity. It is their claim that what we hope to achieve by making our children appear all the same is actually limiting a child’s ability to express who are they and be confident in their own choices early on.
Adopting a uniform free school is about the belief that trusting kids to make their own choices, within certain guidelines, helps foster a better relationship between students and teachers and encourages a more independent and relaxed learning environment.
Is wearing uniforms going to save you money?
The cost of dressing students in uniforms Vs sourcing regular school wear of a child’s own choice is an interesting debate. Is it really cheaper to buy school uniforms than buy clothing from regular shops? Yes and No.
Obviously, if a child is dressed exclusively in high-end clothing then this will tip the scales, but most parents will agree uniforms are not always cheap either. The variability of such a comparison is futile, which is why we would not recommend choosing a school around its uniform policy if it is for financial reasons. There can be winners and losers along the way on both sides.
Schools in Brisbane with a no-uniform policy
Indooroopilly State High School is a non-uniform, co-educational school with student dress standard approved by their Parents and Citizens’ Association. One of the few schools that offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma option, Indooroopilly SHS prides itself on a unique teaching environment and states that they adopt a more independent ethos, placing emphasis on autonomy and mature relationships between student and teacher, where tasks are discussed and dissected, and where debate is open and welcome.
They are a school for young people who want to think responsibly, independently and creatively and, as young adults, understand that continued membership of the school community is dependent upon acceptance of accountability for personal actions.
By making non-uniform a non-issue the school believes that students can instead focus on more productive elements of their learning.
Brisbane Independent School is a co-educational primary school that serves years Prep to 6 and has no uniform.
The focus of the BIS curriculum is the holistic view that the child is the centre of the learning experience. Over the last forty years, the school has explored innovative and cutting-edge theories to develop the rich and exciting curriculum it uses today.
At BIS, students graduate from one room to another when they are developmentally ready – not because of age or the end of a calendar year. Teachers track student development along with academic, physical, social, emotional and self-direction continually to work out the optimal time for them to move to the next classroom. The aim of the graduation process is to be joyful and exciting; where students feel empowered by the transition.
Pine Community School is a small, non-denominational, co-ed private school for Prep – Year 7. According to their website “They are committed to providing a caring, harmonious environment where the academic, physical, social, emotional and creative development of each individual student is attained to their maximum potential. This is achieved through small, multi-age settings where parents, teachers and the community work together to nurture positive self-esteem and encourage all students to become responsible and motivated.” The demand for this school is evident by the waiting list which often sits a couple of years in advance.
Steiner education, based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, is aimed at giving each new generation of children an education entirely free from partisan political, economic, sectarian or racial influences. Steiner schools strive to produce unprejudiced, well-informed and creative young people who are practical contributors to society’s renewal and to the future evolution of humanity and the planet.
All curriculum content and experiences offered to young people during their schooling are purposefully and consciously considered in light of how and when the activity or knowledge will best support the child’s natural development. Samford is a semi-rural location with a strong community focus, to read more about Samford you might be interested in our “things do in Samford with kids” insights.
Summary of uniform free schools in Brisbane
It is worth noting that non-uniform schools generally still have certain attire guidelines that the students must adhere to in centred around being appropriate, safe and respectful. Like everything to do with our children’s schooling a lot of it comes down to the actual individual themselves. Who they are and how well they might respond to a certain environment are all factors worth considering.
These articles and studies below aren’t about proving the benefits of uniforms or indeed, no uniforms. They are however interesting and worth reading if you are interested in uniform policies or wonder if going to a non-uniform school will impact educational outcomes or the well being of your child.
Study about uniforms and the impact on self-esteem Rowan University Study
This shows how the outcomes and benefits can differ across cultures and gender – really interesting. https://www.unr.edu/nevada-today/news/2013/school-uniform-study
The impact of uniforms on school culture at Walden University
The controversial Australian study showing that when girls wore sports uniforms they were more active during recess. Not a uniform debate but certainly acknowledges how attire can impact outcomes. https://evidenceforlearning.org.au/education-evidence/teaching-learning-toolkit/school-uniform