This coming school year, the British Secondary and High School Section will abandon the wearing of a school uniform. For those who were unaware, only the children in the British Section Key Stage 3 (the equivalent of 6ème, 5ème and 4ème for us) currently wear a uniform in secondary. In the French and German secondary Sections, it is the same as in primary, no uniform for cultural reasons.
The end of uniforms in secondary represents a big change for our British colleagues. The Head of the BSHS, Ms Sonya Papps seized on this opportunity to review the TES secondary dress code, which all secondary students must adhere to, whatever Section they belong to. Today, I would like to give you a little background regarding the creation of this document as both and I and the German Head, Mr Roland Heinmuller, were also involved in its development.
All too often, girls are the targets when schools prepare a dress code for their students. Dress codes frequently amount to a long list of what girls can and cannot wear, with a few afterthoughts for the boys. To Ms Papps’s credit, that is not the case here. From the very outset, she ensured that we would not fall into that trap and that we would propose a dress code that would continue to allow for everyone’s individual personal expression.
There are of course restrictions in the dress code, they apply to both boys and girls equally, and the aim is to ensure a comfortable working environment, where our students are sheltered from judgement and/ or ridicule. The dress code is a means of guiding students and teaching them, as our profession requires us, how to protect themselves from others when needs be.
Another important point in the dress code is the wearing of religious symbols. French law prohibits the wearing of any obvious religious symbols in schools in France, although they are tolerated in universities. We compromised (as always!) with the TES dress code and have authorised the wearing of religious symbols at school, however we reserved the right to ask for a written explanation from the families of children who do so, if we deem it necessary. Wearing religious jewellery or clothing in public places has been a topic of debate in France for years now. Here in Taiwan, we are not as affected by such issues, and at school we have not yet faced any challenges with it, which has made striking a
compromise easier. We will continue to rely on everyone’s common sense, tolerance and respect for each other.
Finally, please note that the TES Sports Kit will continue to be worn from 6ème to 4ème, and that a new line of TES t-shirts and polos are being developed for those students who would prefer not to have to worry about what they are going to wear to school every day!