Education: Should teachers wear uniforms in school?

Published: February 9, 2013


school uniforms

Do students suspect a double standard is in play when they are expected to wear school uniforms and teachers are not? Submitted photo

Should teachers wear uniforms if their students are required to do so?

A teacher scans her closet every morning, deciding what to wear.  She works in a private school where students wear pressed collared shirts under scratchy sweaters, all day long.  Their pants are so dark and new looking that an inkblot could blend right in.  The girls know the rules, too, such as  no nail polish. Or it’s a trip to the office, where an unblinking secretary tells them in a curt voice, “You know the rules!”

That teacher scans her closet.  “Beige or red?” she asks herself in a morning voice.  She’s professional:  no jeans that look like jeans, no revealing T-shirts, nothing too casual, or slouchy.  And after 10 minutes, she’s out the door.

Now, if she was expected to wear a uniform, there’d be one less decision to make.  And she’d have more time for other things such as, planning an engaging mini-lesson on “phonemic awareness.”

As a classroom teacher myself, I like picking out my outfits.  It’s a creative process; putting things together, colour coordinating them.  There’s some thought involved!  And the decision is impacted by time limits, I’ve only got 10 minutes here!  What am I going to wear?  You learn to organize your clothes when you have to sort them, hang them up, or plan them.  All are very important skills that children should learn.  Really, any decision-making opportunity (small as it may be) ultimately makes you a better decision maker.

On the flip side, being able to say OK, where’s my scratchy sweater? gives ’us teachers’ a little more time in the mornings, which is a great thing.

So a student wears his polished shoes to school, but his teacher wears a pair of sneakers to work, and there’s no basketball game going on!  If I was that student, I might be slightly jealous.  Not of the sneakers, but of the freedom to wear those sneakers.  I may even suspect a double standard, and wonder why my teacher is not modelling the school’s dress code.

Most public schools in B.C. do not enforce a dress code for classroom teachers.  There are general guidelines of what is appropriate, and what is not.  However, where uniforms are the school’s official dress code, teachers are usually not expected to wear them.

Should they be?

Amrita Sahota is an elementary school teacher.  She has worked extensively within the field of Child and Youth Care.  Currently, Amrita is working as a Teacher on Call.  She enjoys creative writing, and writing teaching stories and strategies, that she shares with other teachers on her teaching blog.  She can be emailed at

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