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We found that getting students to wear their uniforms properly resulted in a marked improvement in overall behavior and discipline on the campus

Mrs. Debra McLaughlin - Principal of John Gray High School

Published 24th July 2007, 9:32am

Most people would agree that providing a safe and disciplined learning environment is the first requirement of any good school. But many might be surprised to learn that the wearing of school uniforms also plays a positive part in maintaining these essential standards. Consequently, the Ministry of Education's previously successful "Being Smart is Looking Smart" campaign will be re-launched this year to coincide with the 07/08 academic year, to highlight to parents and students alike that the benefits of wearing a school uniform extend far beyond the obvious concept of visual identity. Principal of John Gray High School, Mrs. Debra McLaughlin feels that having the Ministry's support when the campaign was first launched in 2006 was the crucial factor that made her schools' effort to regulate uniforms a success. "We found that getting students to wear their uniforms properly resulted in a marked improvement in overall behavior and discipline on the campus" she said. In addition to defining a school and promoting a strong sense of identity and inclusiveness among peers, wearing a school uniform also focuses a student's mind on learning. But as Mrs. McLaughlin points out, it's not just the wearing of a uniform that yields results; it's how the uniform is worn that counts, meaning that the clothes have to fit the child properly and not be oversized and baggy. "In past years, some students have deliberately asked parents to purchase shirts, blouses and trousers that are many sizes too big in keeping with current fashionable trends, but this means that the uniform is not being worn correctly and the student cannot achieve a smart look in this kind of oversized clothing." Given that all public schools in the Cayman Islands require students to wear uniforms, the Minister of Education, Hon. Alden McLaughlin, JP, who is a strong supporter of the uniform policy stated that "the wearing of school uniforms reinforces the view that schools provide an orderly environment and increases students' personal safety by making it easier to recognize visitors and potential intruders on school premises. Additionally, uniforms are a much more affordable and viable option for parents than other more fashionable types of clothing, which are typically more expensive, transient and seasonal." With the start of the new academic year less than two months away, and many parents already giving thought to the purchasing of uniforms in readiness for September, the Ministry of Education is hopeful that the 'Being Smart is Looking Smart' campaign will remind parents of their responsibility in ensuring that their children arrive at school dressed appropriately, in well fitting clothes which are in accordance with their school's uniform code. "School Principals have already been informed that they are to take appropriate action if students repeatedly fail to comply with the uniform code" stated Minister McLaughlin, "which means that parents of offenders will be contacted and asked to collect their child from school immediately and have them dressed appropriately before returning them to classes." Parents and guardians wishing to find out more about their child's school uniform policy or the 'Being Smart is Looking Smart' campaign are asked to contact the Education Department on 945 1199.