The summer’s drawing to a close - if we ever had any sort of a summer at all – I heard on the radio yesterday that August, contrary to that which we like to believe, is wetter than the other summer months.
Whether it’s to do with climate change or just nostalgia not being what it used to be, our Augusts are no longer the tree splittingly sunny days and balmy warm evenings of our childhoods.
Of course, as the school term begins again we will all wait in anticipation of the ‘Indian summer’ season to start, although that has also eluded us over recent years.
And so the annual issue of the cost of school uniforms raises its head again. Any family with school age children will tell you there’s not much change left out of a hundred odd pounds for a basic school uniform if you’re lucky, by the time you buy the standard shirt, trousers or skirt, jumper or sweatshirt, regulation socks, tie, blazer or coat and sturdy shoes you hope they won’t either wear out or grow out of this side of Christmas.
Add on sports kit or equipment - it seems to be that for items like gum shields and shin guards for instance, the better protection they offer, the higher the price – and you can be out a small fortune on a family of two or three to send them back for a new term.
And that’s before you even think about children who go to schools that have very distinctive uniforms that can’t just be bought off the shelf in the local Tesco, Sainsbury or Asda.
Schools that insist on a particular shade of navy or grey or a specific style of school skirt, only available from specialist stockists or in some cases from the school’s own shop, and usually more expensive.
But why wear a uniform at all? Children in some European countries seems to get by very well without them.
Well most schools would argue that uniforms are a good idea. They are a great leveller in these days of designer labels and high fashion stakes, bringing a sense of equality no matter how well off or strapped for cash a family is and they bring a collective identity to all students in the school.
Think about the adult world of work. Some people have to wear a specific uniform, like for instance those who work in retail, and many are given an allowance towards the cost of buying this. Many men have been wearing a uniform to work for years – it’s called a suit. They have the choice of buying that suit from any shop they like or can afford and aren’t restricted to buying from one particular outlet.
There are employers who have moved away from the corporate look for workers – not that long ago bank officials wore smart uniforms, either tunics or jackets and ties which looked professional and identified them instantly as trusted staff. I still find it slightly unnerving that they now wear their own clothing and look like they could be any random who’s just stepped out from the queue, rather than the business like appearance that used to set them apart as a trained, professional counter clerk.
There is something to be said for wearing a uniform, but they can be expensive items. But here’s a radical idea, being talked about in Scotland – a universal school uniform for the whole country, keeping it cost effective. Worth thinking about, eh?