The Schoolwear Association (SA) has highlighted the key role that school uniform can play in the safe reopening of schools, due to the benefits they offer in regard to safety, discipline and mental wellbeing.

As schools prepare to reopen from the proposed date of 8 March in England and 22 February in Scotland, deciding on the most effective uniform policy is likely to be an important consideration, explained the SA.

“The well-known benefits a sensible school uniform provides are only more relevant following extended periods outside of the classroom, helping children get back into established routines and creating a positive mindset for learning.”

Matthew Easter, co-chair of the SA, commented: “Government guidance remains very supportive of the benefits of uniform, and this certainly echoes with the feedback we receive from school, parents and pupils.”

Wearing a uniform provides pupils with a visual and mental distinction between school and home life each day, added Matthew.

“There is a need for schools to maintain a strong sense of community as the majority of children have been separated from each other during the most recent closures, and we think that maintaining a familiar routine will be even more important when pupils return to the classroom.”

The importance of school uniform to the mental wellbeing of pupils is supported by psychologist Dr Ameerah Khadaroo from the University of the Arts London, who said that a uniform had a crucial role to play in boosting the wellbeing of students as they return to the classroom.

“In light of the current Covid-19 situation, wearing school uniforms can help foster and strengthen a sense of togetherness amongst school children which is much needed in a context of social distancing,” explained Ameerah.

“Preserving a sense of community at school is essential and resuming lessons after a rather long period of social isolation can be a difficult transition for children. From a developmental psychological perspective, this can be a challenging experience for young people with an impact on their well-being — uniforms can help facilitate this process by reminding school children of their identity as a learner.

“There is a strong association between fashion and identity on a psychological, cognitive, emotional and behavioural level. School uniforms can be used as an anchor to put children in the right mindset to resume their educational journey. This can boost their self-confidence, self-esteem, motivation and build positive peer relationships based on conformity rather than individuality that can help to better cope with social distancing in class.

“We are going through difficult times and the impact on young people is huge. This should not be ignored. There is accumulating evidence suggesting that a stable environment can promote the well-being of young people. The aim of psychologists and educational professionals should be to create a routine for school children so they can adapt to the new context of schooling as smoothly as possible.”