5.3.1 Decisions about school uniforms should be consistent with occupational health and safety, anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation. Aspects of the uniform related to safety, e.g. safe footwear, eye protection and hats, will need to be enforced as appropriate.
5.3.2 Each school’s uniform policy must be the result of formal consultation with students, teachers and parents or carers, including the Parents and Citizens’ Association, local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and School Council, where relevant. The consultation will be conducted in a manner appropriate to each school and be based on participatory decision-making principles. The school’s uniform policy and uniform requirements should be formally endorsed by the school community before implementation.
5.3.3 A school’s uniform policy should take into account the diverse nature of the student population in the school and not disadvantage any student. Economic, personal, social and cultural factors affecting students and their families must be considered when deciding on items of uniform. Other considerations, such as body shape or religious requirements should be taken into account in making a final decision on the design and fabric of school uniforms.
5.3.4 The school’s uniform policy and school uniform requirements should be reviewed at least every five years and amended where necessary. Groups within the school community may also seek a review when circumstances change significantly or issues arise…
6.1.3 Suspension or expulsion solely for non-compliance with uniform requirements is not to occur. Student enrolment cannot be contingent upon adherence to school uniform policy.
6.1.4 Students should not be disadvantaged where required uniform items are not available because of circumstances beyond their control.
6.1.5 Conscientious objections by parents to the wearing of school uniform should be respected.
6.1.6 Responses to students who do not wear uniform must be appropriate. They should be clarified, agreed upon by the school community and documented. Responses must be fair and consistent. They must not prevent students from continued participation in essential curriculum activities except where exclusion is necessary for reasons of safety. In this situation, alternative educational activities must be provided.
The fact is school uniforms in NSW are matters of convention, and strictly speaking are legally unenforceable. Fifty years ago no state primary school in NSW had a uniform; at Sutherland cast-off bits of World War II uniforms were fashionable, and very few boys wore shoes.
The latter these days may well fall foul of occupational health and safety legislation.
You see there was a good discussion on the dreaded head scarf issue (do visit that link) in the staff room today. One colleague referred to the often sensible Maralyn Parker from the Daily Telegraph, “our award winning education columnist” whose column is obviously too trivial to appear in the online version of the paper, perhaps because she does seem honest and independent most of the time. Yesterday she argued against head scarves on the grounds that if we accept the reason of modesty advanced by some wearers, then it implies the school uniform is NOT modest. This really is specious: all we have to accept is that this is the wearer’s idea of modesty, but it does not have to be ours. We can nonetheless respect the existence of that view and allow the person to exercise it without any threat to our rather different view. That, after all, is basic in any culturally plural environment. Why does it take so much to get our heads around something so obvious?
Betsy B, who is an Orthodox Jew, totally accepts the right of Muslim girls to wear head scarves if they wish to, provided that if there is a problem with school uniform permission has been sought from the school. Of course this policy also covers Orthodox Jewish boys and the various caps and tassles they might want to wear. She also says that having once taught in an inner western Sydney girls school where head scarves were not uncommon, one simply did not notice them after a while. To her it is a non-event, a non-issue.