What is it all about
Looking neat and tidy in your school uniform. Or at least that is what it should be about. The boys looking like mini businessmen and the girls dressed in their Victorian era formal wear.
Hair neat and tidy, hair bands matching the school colours, nails short and clean, shoes polished, hems done neatly (not stapled like I used to do with mine rather than sewing them).
What goes wrong
Problems creep in when you have a teacher who takes a perfectly neat head of hair and decides they must pull the fringe down to check if it touches the child’s eyebrows or ears.
Since when they have it brushed and neat it doesn’t touch eyebrows and ears, what exactly is the purpose of this other than for the teacher to throw their weight around. What exactly are they trying to achieve?
When things turn ridiculous
Let me be the first to say how pleased I am that underwear inspection is a thing of the past. When I was at primary school, we had to wear these large navy blue bloomers, and the teachers would make us lift the side of the dress and show that we were wearing them. For the life of me, I can’t work out why.
Thankfully by senior primary common sense had prevailed and we were all told that if we wanted to do cartwheels on the field at break, could the girls please wear their PT shorts under their dresses. Now of course, girls can wear trousers like the boys, so it isn’t an issue – yay for things moving with the times.
Read more: Lengthen your dress or wear trousers!
Why do schools use uniforms?
Many reasons really – in the long run it is cheaper as you buy two or three sets of clothing which are worn every day, children don’t spend hours obsessing about what to wear, everyone looks neat and tidy and clothing doesn’t become a distraction at school.
It would of course be lovely if the children could wear clothes more practical for the climate in South Africa, but that is a different subject all together. I’m pro-uniform but also pro-common sense.
The problem of course with looking neat is that people who look sloppy in general still look sloppy in their uniforms – with shirts untucked, socks hanging down, hair un-brushed – so grooming inspections become necessary.
Read more: The school uniform cost debacle
Grooming inspections certainly help with keeping a general appearance of neatness, but when a teacher does their best to take a neat child and hunt for a fault that wouldn’t be visible to a general passer-by anyway, what exactly are they hoping to achieve other than making themselves look like having authority over children has gone to their heads?
I know most teachers are not like this at all, but I have visions of the types of teachers who won’t allow children to go to the toilet and end up with children wetting their pants in front of the class.
I only came across two in my school career and I’ve come across far more bullies proportionally, in my working life, sitting in supervisory and management positions, however, as soon as I heard about fringes being pulled down I began to wonder, is missing the point of a grooming inspection and using it as a chance to flaunt power over small children a red flag for bullying behaviour?
Do schools take action against teachers who bully? Do they look out for these subtle signs?