WHILE teenagers across the country grumble about pulling on their blazers each morning, one Oxford pupil is calling for uniform jumpers to be introduced at her school.
As part of her citizenship GCSE, Maya Wanelik, 14, from Summertown, was asked to contact people in authority about an issue she would like to change.
Maya decided she wanted to change The Cherwell School’s long-standing tradition of having no uniform, and contacted her headteacher Paul James and Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood.
She said: “Some children get bullied because they wear designer clothes and other children are jealous, but children who don’t have designer clothes can get bullied too.
“Anything that isn’t uniform means there’s a chance of children getting bullied.”
She said it was important that the school kept its unique identity and suggested a school jumper with a logo rather than a full-scale uniform could be introduced.
Maya said: “We don’t want a full uniform because Cherwell’s unique for not having one, but I think a school jumper would be positive.
“Children would behave better outside school because they represent the school.
“I think it will also reduce inappropriate clothing worn in school – at the moment some girls wear quite revealing clothes.”
She believed that rather than being an additional expense for parents, it would mean less was spent on other clothes worn to school.
She said: “When I spoke to friends, all of them said ‘no’ to uniform but when I said some sort of jumper, most said yes.”
Delilah Bannister, 14, from North Oxford, said: “In a way it’s good not to have a uniform because it makes us unique but having a jumper or cardigan would be good because it brings everyone together.”
Mr James said the citizenship exercise was generating a flurry of correspondence.
He said: “MPs are getting letters about poverty, student fees or Darfur, while I tend to get emails about toilets, catering and school uniform.” He pointed out the school already had a PE uniform which included a hooded sweatshirt which some pupils chose to wear during lessons.
He said: “I’m happy we are non-uniform but as always I’m happy to talk to students about any suggestions.
“The issue of school uniform is not one which is a priority for us.”
MAYA MAKES HER CASE
"I think we should have some sort of uniform at The Cherwell School for a number of reasons.
"Firstly, it will reduce the amount of any bullying because students are often bullied over what they are wearing at school.
"Secondly, it will make students safer if they decide to go to Summertown for their lunch break because it will be easier for the public to identify them as potentially vulnerable.
"Thirdly, wearing a uniform with the school logo will make students behave better outside school because they will realise they are representing their school.
"Fourthly, having a uniform will stop students wearing any inappropriate clothing at school.
"A school uniform will in the long run save parents’ money and help the environment.
"At the moment we are required to wear a simple uniform in our PE lessons.
"Our PE kit is a dark-blue top with our school logo but we are free to wear any dark-blue shorts; as for shoes, any decent and comfortable sport shoes are acceptable.
"I think we could have something similar to this: a choice of an informal school uniform.
"Our school is unique for not having any uniform but we can still remain unique by having just a school jumper, a V-neck or a hoodie, with students able to pick."