School Uniform: Schools, Middle Schools, High Schools... Where will it be tested?

The uniform is going back to school.

School Uniform: Schools, Middle Schools, High Schools... Where will it be tested?

The uniform is going back to school. The Minister of National Education, Gabriel Attal, must specify in the autumn the methods of the experiment which must evaluate the effects of the return of the single outfit. Cities are already volunteers.

Will the uniform be back in schools? Most likely in some. The Minister of National Education declared on September 4, 2023, the day of the start of the school year, on RTL, that he wanted to "launch experiments fairly quickly" on the wearing of uniforms. Gabriel Attal made an appointment in the fall to specify "the methods of experimentation", he who wishes to test the return of the single outfit with a "real evaluation methodology" to see the effects of the measure.

The question of the school uniform is back on the front of the stage after a week of debate on the ban on wearing the abaya and the qamis at school. While the right half of the political spectrum believes that the return of the uniform is the best answer, the minister is not of this opinion. "I'm not sure it's a magic bullet that solves all the problems," he said, reaffirming his position on the subject. Still, the minister is ready to give it a shot, as he indicated at the end of July in a river interview granted to Midi Libre: "Experimentation is always useful for advancing the debate, one way or the other". Too early, therefore, to comment on the possible definitive return of school uniforms, the answer to this question will depend on the results of the experiment, which must be evaluated according to what it "allows in terms of transmission , raising standards in schools and restoring authority in our schools".

No sooner had Gabriel Attal mentioned the idea of ​​evaluating the effects of the return of uniforms to schools than the volunteers to participate in the experiment made themselves known. At the end of July, it was the mayor of Béziers, Robert Ménard, who declared on France Bleu, on August 7, "raise your hand" to take part in the test. If the city councilor close to the far right is in favor of the return of the uniform, he says he is not "naive enough to think that the uniform or the blouse at school will solve everything". Such a measure could, however, "partially settle a number of questions", in particular avoid the "fashion race", erase social differences, calm "ambient narcissism" and "fight against school harassment", according to the mayor of Béziers .

Another volunteer in the list: the mayor of Perpignan Louis Aliot (RN) or the president of the Alpes-Maritimes, Eric Ciotti (LR), and his counterpart in the Bouches-du-Rhône, Martine Vassal (LR). The latter suggests organizing a “large consultation with the National Education and the parents of students in order to experiment with the wearing of the uniform in the colleges” of her department. The boss of the Republicans is campaigning for his part for a general wearing of uniforms. Gabriel Attal hears these proposals without responding to them.

Rare are the schools that impose the uniform these days. Among them, we find in particular the defense high schools, former military high schools, i.e. six establishments, according to TF1 Info: the Prytanée national militaire in La Flèche, the military high schools of Aix, Autun and Saint-Cyr, the naval school in Brest and the School of Air and Space Pupils in Montbonnot-Saint-Martin. The education centers of the Legion of Honor, establishments reserved only for descendants of recipients of the Legion of Honor, also impose the uniform on their students, as does the boarding school of Excellence in Sourdun, in Seine-et -Marne (since March 2012).

If in mainland France wearing a uniform at school is rather rare, overseas it is much more widespread. Note that this is sometimes more of a required outfit than a real uniform in Martinique, Guyana or Guadeloupe. For example, a t-shirt of a certain color may be requested. As reported by the regional daily L'Union, in January 2023, a third of public establishments required it in Martinique. According to La 1ère, in New Caledonia, since 2017, the wearing of uniforms has been widespread in schools in the southern province. On the Polynesian side, seven colleges in Tahiti have made it compulsory.

The return of school uniforms is a recurring debate in France. However, this has never been made compulsory for all public education in metropolitan France, recalls TF1 Info. While many children have certainly put on the smock during their school years, the main purpose was to limit ink stains on clothing. An outfit that has gradually become obsolete with the advent of the ballpoint pen, relates historian Claude Lelièvre in his book Today's School in the Light of History.

Uniforms as such were more implemented in the private sector or in public establishments claiming to be more selective. In secondary education, on the other hand, the uniform was imposed by Napoleon at the time of the creation of high schools, in 1802. An obligation lifted in 1914, but certain establishments allowed the tradition to continue until, for the most resistant, 1968. It was ultimately the student crisis that forced them to abandon the uniform once and for all.

Today, as the former Minister of National Education Pap Ndiaye recalled in January 2023, "establishments, in complete freedom, by modifying their internal regulations, can [completely] impose, if they so wish, a school uniform".

In an interview given to Le Parisien and carried out by seven readers of the daily, published on January 12, 2023, Brigitte Macron declared herself in favor of wearing a uniform at school. Reminding the panelists of her fight against school bullying, she also spoke of why she supported the wearing of pre-established attire by schools.

"I wore the uniform as a student: fifteen years of navy blue skirt, navy blue sweater," she recalled to Le Parisien. An experience of which she has fond memories. The first lady considered the benefits of standardizing outfits: it would not differentiate between students and would save money "over brands," she argued. It would also be an opportunity for students to save time because "it's time-consuming to choose how to dress in the morning". If the uniform were to return to French schools, however, there would be a condition supported by Brigitte Macron: it would require "a simple and not sad outfit".