A uniform approach - Part 2
CWB continues its analysis of the Schoolwear Association's latest research project.
28 August 2012
In order to gain a fresh perspective on the current views of school uniform and the way it’s supplied, the Schoolwear Association recently embarked on a research programme involving focus groups and YouGov surveys with parents and teachers. Here are the findings.
The Schoolwear Association’s (SA) 2012 research comprised two focus groups among parents and teachers and two YouGov surveys among parents with children attending a state school where uniform is required.
DISCIPLINE AND BEHAVIOUR:
The SA has always believed that putting on a school uniform in the morning puts school children in the right mindset for their day in terms of both discipline and learning.
• Seventy-nine per cent of parents surveyed also believe that students wearing a uniform helps maintain discipline in schools. This view is fairly consistent across the country but most pronounced in the North, where this figure rises to 86 per cent. Just 9 per cent of all parents surveyed disagree.
• Just one in five parents interviewed (21 per cent) doubt the ability of school uniform to positively influence pupil behaviour (rising to 27 per cent among those that expressed an opinion either way).
• Teachers interviewed in the focus group suggested they don’t have non-uniform days because the last time they did, the behaviour deteriorated.
PRICE AND VALUE FOR MONEY:
The SA has always understood that value for money is key when it comes to school uniform: but value is about more than just price.
• Price is the most important factor for parents surveyed when it comes to buying school uniform – 97 per cent believe it is either “very” or “fairly important”. Parents surveyed in London are less concerned about price, with 13 per cent saying it is not “very important”.
• That said, both quality and longevity – how long the uniform lasts – are extremely close behind price in terms of importance, with 96 per cent and 95 per cent of parents surveyed saying each is either “very” or “fairly important”, respectively.
• Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of parents surveyed agree that school uniform is definitely better value than allowing children to wear their own clothes to school (rising to 87 per cent among those that agreed or disagreed).
• Eighty-three per cent of parents surveyed who expressed an opinion either way do not agree that school uniform is less convenient than children wearing own clothes.
• A slightly higher proportion of parents surveyed with children at state primary school believe uniform is better value than “mufti” – 74 per cent of state primary school parents versus 68 per cent of state secondary school parents (88 per cent and 84 per cent when looking at those that expressed an opinion either way).
• Seventy-seven per cent of parents surveyed believe that £30 – a sum quoted by The SA – is “average” or “good value” for a primary school uniform.
PRODUCT RANGE AND SERVICE:
Children aren’t “one size fits all”, and the SA wanted to highlight the need for variety of product range and service.
• Parents surveyed are less enthusiastic about the range of sizes available in supermarkets (39 per cent) than they are about the price (55 per cent) – this is most pronounced in the capital where just 16 per cent said they felt supermarkets had the best range.
• More than half the parents surveyed (53 per cent) said that their independent retailer or school shop stocking school uniform all-year-round was something that it did well.
• Almost as many (45 per cent) cited their ability to understand the uniform needs of the child and the school as something they do well.
• Brand is generally not perceived to be an important factor for parents surveyed when buying school uniform – just 20 per cent say that it is.
• Forty per cent of parents surveyed placed importance on a shop’s ability to provide a fitting or alterations service for uniforms.
SAFETY AND SECURITY:
The SA believes an easily identifiable school uniform is a valuable tool keeping children safe, a view that has been reinforced by groups such as police forces in the past.
Parents in the focus groups said:
• “I believe school uniform creates a discrete identity, delineates the transition between home and school, helps the children become part of a team or group, and instils discipline and a sense of belonging to somewhere special.”
• “Wearing a recognisable uniform is a deterrent against bad conduct in public. They are easily reportable!”
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2006 adults (342 parents with one or more children attending a state school where school uniform is compulsory or recommended) and 2239 adults (373 parents with one or more children attending a state school where school uniform is compulsory or recommended).
Fieldwork was undertaken on 27–30 January 2012 and 16–19 March 2012 respectively. The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
YouGov also conducted two online focus groups, one among parents of children at schools (both state and independent) where school uniform is worn, and one among teachers from both state schools and independent schools who view school uniform favourably.
The focus groups were run on 16 and 17 May respectively.
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