Secondhand uniforms can still create equality in French schools

As the debate around school uniforms continues, we hear how a British thrift shop idea could be transferred to France with no stigma attached for students

A Connexion reader shares their experience on secondhand school uniforms in France
Published Last updated

In the February issue of The Connexion, Nabila Ramdani’s opinion piece stated: “A uniform does not erase superficial differences – children can appear just as poor in a makeshift one as they can in any other clothes.”

Read more: ‘Non, Madame Macron, school uniforms do not mean social equality’

Back in the 1970s in the UK, my two daughters went to a convent-run secondary school, with compulsory uniform.

Each summer, the school held a fête, and one of the stalls sold school uniforms.

Parents ‘donated’ uniforms that their children had been grown out of, and received 50% of the price for which it sold.

The price was normally about 50% of the cost of a new one.

I went the year before my eldest daughter started school, and bought a very nice uniform for her.

I did the same for my younger daughter.

It wasn’t as though I could not afford to buy a new uniform (blazer, skirt and coat), but it seemed silly to spend all that money for something that they would grow out of in a couple of years.

There was no stigma attached to such purchases, and it helped those who were not as well-off as I was.

That, to my mind, was equality.

Not who is wearing the latest fashion, or who is wearing her older brother’s/sister’s hand-me downs.

Related articles

School uniforms in France? MPs set to propose new law

Mythbuster: French state schools do not have uniforms

French far-right election candidate relaunches school uniform debate