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The benefits of adding a school uniform to a school’s wider improvement measures.

First, how effective is this?

There is a general belief that the school uniform supports the development of a whole school ethos and therefore supports discipline and motivation. However, there is no robust evidence that introducing a school uniform will, by itself, improve academic performance, behaviour, or attendance. Instead studies have shown that when a school uniform policy is combined with several other improvement measures, such as changes in behaviour policy or other aspects of teaching and learning, it can have a huge impact.

There are also cultural questions about how a school uniform is perceived which play an important role in determining its acceptability and the student’s compliance. There is some evidence that free school uniforms improve attendance in areas of high poverty.

What is the evidence?

The evidence rests mainly on correlational studies that have compared the performance of schools with uniforms to those without, or that have examined a school's trajectory of improvement after the introduction of school uniforms. However, all studies align in showing that schools that choose a school uniform policy as part of a broader range of improvement measures have the biggest beneficial results.

What are the costs?

The costs for schools associated with introducing a school uniform are very low. Normally the costs are borne by parents who must buy the required clothes. For schools, the costs associated with introducing a school uniform are estimated as exceptionally low but play a big part in the overall improvement.

What should I consider?

Wearing a uniform, on its own, may improve learning marginally, however, when successfully incorporated into a broader school improvement process which includes the development of a school ethos and the improvement of behaviour and discipline, it can have amazing results. If you are planning to implement a uniform policy, have you considered how you will embed it in a wider school policy will improve learning?

Staff commitment to upholding and enforcing a uniform policy along with other wider improvement measures is crucial to a successful implementation and positive outcome.