There is “no evidence” that school uniforms benefit young people.
That’s according to journalist Emma DeSouza, as the French Government considers making uniforms mandatory nationwide.
Uniforms may be the norm in Ireland but in France they are extremely rare - something Ms DeSouza believes should remain the case.
“Certainly, there’s no evidence that it benefits young people,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.
“It doesn’t lead to better educational outcomes; it doesn’t decrease bullying or decrease inequality.
“Really, it’s rooted in a conservative ideology that can reinforce gender norms and strip away any idea of the individual.”
St Munchin's College Assistant Principal Eric Nelligan disagreed and said he was glad his children attend a school with a uniform.
“This morning, I’m getting my kids up for school and I’ve a five-year-old and she loves trying on different clothes,” he said.
“So, every weekend, we spend 10, 15 minutes fighting over what clothes she wants to wear.
“Today is a school day and she just puts on her uniform straight off in the morning - it’s a timesaver.”
Mr Nelligan said uniforms also benefit children as well, eliminating any “subconscious bias” teachers have about certain types of clothes and reducing class makers.
“Uniforms, they reduce inequality, there’s not that argument over what clothes they’re wearing,” he said.
“It’s shown that uniforms definitely reduce stress in girls because there’s an element of fairness, everyone comes wearing the same clothes.”
Ms DeSouza countered that a University of Missouri study found that uniforms can also be a source of discrimination.
“[It] found that actually students, particularly young girls, were being discriminated against because of school policy being enforced in a very strict way,” she said.
“So, if they had anything that was [not] school uniform, they were being sent home in a far greater level to students who did not come from an ethnic minority background.”
The Department of Education requests schools have a uniform that is "generic and can be purchased from an array of retailers".
Main image: A group of school children walking in their uniforms. Image: PjrTravel / Alamy Stock Photo