The bane of teachers in schools with a strict uniform code is the time and energy needed to be an enforcer.

Instead of building a convivial working relationship with your students you are constantly policing the uniform, dishing out infractions and penalties, and recording offences incurred.

In one school I had the misfortune to work at, teachers who failed to register the required quota of uniform infractions were confronted by the deputy principal and told to lift their game.

Personally, I found that aspect of teaching tedious, petty and embarrassing.

As a male teacher, I found it awkward telling a female her dress was too short or that her hair color was not natural or her underwear was not colour-neutral.

I was always far more interested in what was going on inside their heads rather than what was on their heads, or if there was hint of make-up on their faces.

The Uniform Code in the aforementioned school ran over multiple pages with detailed description of the composition, style and dimensions of permitted jewellery and haircuts.

In his first 12 months in office the new headmaster spent more time at assemblies raving on about uniforms than any other issue. 

When I diplomatically asked him one day why he was so obsessed with policing of uniforms, he surprised me with his answer.

'It all starts with the uniform. If you want discipline in your school, you must begin with a zero-tolerance attack on uniforms. Once you have crushed any rebellion in this regard they will be more likely to be docile and submissive in their classrooms. It’s a bit like breaking in a horse! 

'If you let them get away with uniform slackness you will have no hope of discipline elsewhere in the school. I believe that was the reason I was the successful candidate for the headmaster’s job. The school council want a strictly enforced school uniform and that’s what they’ll get!'

I must admit that such a Machiavellian strategy had never occurred to me, but it made sense in the light of schools effectively subduing and controlling students.

If we do not establish who is boss, then we are on the way to a blackboard jungle!

Individuality, rebelliousness and defiance must be resisted at all cost and school uniforms are an ideal battle-ground to instill uniformity and conformity.

Far from being anachronistic, school uniforms play a vital role in keeping students subjugated and in their place.

Most school uniforms are unflattering, quaint and uncomfortable. They are obviously designed to quash individuality and flair, and ride roughshod over body-shape and age-appropriateness.

Dressing 10-year-old private school students in what is, in reality, a business-suit or blazer and tie is quaint but hardly functional for a normal boy who wants to hare around the playground.

Eighteen-year-old boys wearing shorts look absolutely ridiculous and female students with body image preoccupations are forced to wear unflattering dresses.

Some schools in colder climes refuse to allow girls to wear slacks. I have taught in sub-tropical classrooms without air-conditioning, and yet the boys were in trouble if their ties and top buttons were not done-up. 

Apart from being case studies in sex discrimination, there is no consideration for the importance of student comfort.

How can we expect students to concentrate and be productive for five hours a day, when they are physically uncomfortable because of the uniform we have inflicted on them?