Authoritarian Schooling: A Catalogue of Damage compiled by David Gribble




 And in 2010: School uniform






Extracts from interviews conducted in 2010 with twenty students, aged between 11 and 15, who had transferred to Sands School, Ashburton, because of their experiences at other schools.

'Was there a uniform?'

'Yes, we had green pinafores, grey tights, blazers, shirts, all sorts.'

'What happened if you didn't wear the right uniform?'

'You'd get given detention and sent home.'

'Actually sent home?'



'They had lots of petty rules about things like clothing, what you could and couldn't wear and just I don't understand how it affects your education, what you wear, and like petty rules about how you look and what you do and what your attitude is. The rules were so stupid things like getting a detention for not having your hair tied back and just stupid things like your skirt having to be a certain length. If you're wearing shoes you're not allowed to not wear socks, absolutely stupid things.'


'We had to wear uniform and they were quite strict about it, and if you wore different shoes, maybe, you could be taken to the head of year's office and told off, you know, and it was quite strict on that, like the T-shirt had to be right, jumper, you know, you weren't allowed to wear denim, even if they were black, you know, the colour and everything. No, it was quite strict.'

'What happened if you didn't have your uniform on?'

'They would tell you off, give you a second-hand uniform in exchange for something that you owned, so that you had to give it back. Say, they like, said 'Trade your mobile phone for a tie.'

'It was the staff who did that?'



'Your tie knot could be no bigger than that [demonstrated with finger and thumb], and you had to have at least three stripes showing going down. Because people liked to wear their knots big and baggy and pull the tie down so that the stripes at the bottom went up so it was really short, and they just didn't like anybody being different from anyone else, so they went and pulled them up to the very top.'


'There was the jumper rule. The rule was that you had to ask the teacher's permission to take your jumper off in class, but you were not allowed to walk out of the classroom without your jumper on. If you did, you were taken to the senior management and dealt with. Even when it was really hot because I was the only person with a thermometer in my pencil case, and it was reaching thirty degrees and it was the middle of summer, and you were still not allowed to take your jumper off in the classroom without asking, and you weren't allowed to take it off in the corridors.'