Employers and Universities: Work with us?

Register  |  Login

Success at School

  • Apprenticeships
  • Career zones

primary school work experience dress code

What to wear for work experience

We all have different ideas of style and what we choose to wear outside of school or out with friends is up to us. But with school and work, things change a bit.

In these situations we need to fit in with the organisation's style and so we're faced with rules, ideas and expectations of what to wear for work experience and our job.

And in  job interviews it's even more important to think about what we wear, as our outfit is one of the big things that can help us make a good first impression.

So what should I wear?

Every organisation has a different idea of what's appropriate to wear for work experience. For example, in some creative industries it's pretty common to wear jeans and trainers, whereas in a law firm, nearly everyone wears a suit. In some jobs you'll need to wear a uniform to work, which at least takes the decision out of your hands!

However, whatever the industry you work in and whatever the dress code, there are 3 key tips that pretty much everyone agrees on when it comes to deciding what job interview or work experience outfits to wear:

1. You need to be well presented

Whatever you wear, it needs to be neat and clean, so get the iron out, polish your shoes and tuck in your shirt. (Remember your body language is important  too!)

2. Don't over-accessorise!

Jewellery, makeup and accessories should be kept simple and to a minimum (unless your job directly involves them!).

For jewellery, a good rule of thumb is no more than one of anything , so one set of plain earrings, one ring or one simple necklace should be OK.  Save hats and sunglasses for outdoors too. An interviewer needs to be able to see your face clearly and you don't want to distract them with your headgear (plus it'll just look plain weird!).

3. Dress to impress

When it comes to deciding what to wear for work experience, remember that most employers expect you to dress smartly, even if the normal dress code at work is casual . Remember, you're dressing to impress them!

The same goes for work experience outfits. Be smart on your first day - you can always dress down if your boss says it's OK.

So what exactly does "dressing smartly" mean? It's not just about wearing something new or expensive. There are certain kinds of clothes that people generally agree on as smart. For example, suits, ties, button down shirts and plain dark coloured clothing are all common gear.

We've put together a handy infographic to give you some ideas about the kinds of clothes that can help you make a great first impression at a job interview, work experience or first day at work.

Choosing the right interview and work experience clothes can really help, but it's not just about appearance. Here are some more tips to help you out come your work experience placement or interview:

  • What is a work placement?
  • Dos and don't for job interviews

Latest jobs

Success at School

Sign up to our newsletter

Get test careers advice and info on apprenticeships and school leaver jobs.

  • Child menu item
  • Primary schools
  • Secondary schools
  • Case studies
  • Whitepapers
  • Events and webinars
  • Product training courses
  • Progress and outcomes
  • Rewards and recognition
  • Essential training
  • Education resource service
  • Insights and data
  • Supporting teachers
  • Finance services
  • Governance and clerking
  • Internal scrutiny and risk
  • Juniper MIS
  • People management software
  • Payroll and pensions
  • Performance management software
  • HR services
  • Website portfolio
  • Communication tools
  • MAT websites and marketing services
  • Parent engagement app
  • School website services

home-header-40-min-1024x682.jpeg-2

East Sheen Primary School: An Outstanding Ofsted Rating with Help from Juniper Assessment Tracker

South Bromsgrove High School pic

South Bromsgrove High School: Utilising Data Analytics for Enhanced Educational Outcomes

Boudica Schools trust pic

Peace of mind: taking the stress out of risk and governance

Muxtons primary school logo-1

Switching to Juniper Horizons MIS

Our Lady Immaculate Catholic School pic

Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Primary School: Providing HR Consultancy

St Pius X Catholic School

St Pius X Catholic Primary School: Managing Complex HR Challenges

parental-engagement

How to Engage Parents in Their Child’s Learning Journey

mockup-of-a-macbook-pro-on-a-rustic-desk-2311-el1-768x512

Get a New School Website Without the Workload

Dress code for school staff.

A dress code for school staff can be tricky to decide on when taking into account personal preferences and expression. Here is a guide on school work dress code to help you navigate the topic.

primary school work experience dress code

When outlining what is and is not acceptable for your school staff, the dress code will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion. Whether you’re wondering what to wear to work as a teacher, or you are a manager responsible for deciding your school work dress code, it’s important to understand this topic. This post outlines what is and is not acceptable workwear, as well as why.

Employees Responsibilities

A dress code is usually contained within the Staff Code of Conduct or handbook. Some are a detailed – list of “Do’s and Don’ts”; others prefer to have a more general framework. While much is common sense and many staff automatically follow reasonable practice without even realising it, it is important to have some clear parameters to enable inappropriate dress to be tackled. These include:

  • Appropriate attire for the role
  • Clothing is not likely to be viewed as revealing, sexually provocative or offensive
  • Attire is free of any political or otherwise offensive or contentious slogans or logos
  • Workwear is not deemed to be discriminatory and is culturally sensitive
  • Outfits should not place them or others at risk and comply with any health and safety requirements

However, it is also important to challenge your own prejudices and preconceptions when thinking about dress codes. One person’s “smart” is another’s “casual” and what’s acceptable changes over time. Tie wearing is a good example – once pretty much mandatory in many work environments, a much more relaxed approach is now taken by most organisations.

Whatever you decide, it is important that your employees understand the need to follow the dress code. As well as ensuring that your staff are representing your school in an appropriate way, there are also potential health and safety issues from failing to follow the dress code.

As a manager, you are accountable for ensuring that the dress code is observed at all times by your staff. Managers should ensure new employees are aware of the dress code and its requirements. This should be done during the recruitment process and should be reiterated at induction .

Person deciding what to wear

Appropriate & Inappropriate School Work Clothes

This next section will look at examples of clothing that might be seen as acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace.

However, the balance always needs to be struck between freedom of expression/personal style (including religious freedoms), practicality and professional image and safe practice.  It is always wise to consult with staff before imposing dress codes and to be mindful of personal sensitivities.

For example, leggings may generally not be preferred but may be the most comfortable and practical wear for certain body shapes. Similarly, allowance needs to be made for sensitivities to heat (everything from menopausal women to seasonal variations), financial position – some staff cannot afford an expansive “work” wardrobe, and of course cultural attire.

In addition, you must also keep in mind that there are occasions for flexibility e.g. outdoor/adventure visits and activities, the age range of children (e.g. do staff have to sit on the floor), sports etc. Certain activities will also require protective clothing (e.g. caretaking, cleaning, technicians, catering etc.) Similarly, the dress code may be relaxed on training days or informal activities such as fetes. Always keep in mind why a dress code is important in school.

Examples of appropriate clothing might include a mixture of:

  • Blouses/shirts (long or short sleeve)
  • Suitable length skirts or trousers
  • Smart plain T-shirts/polo shirts
  • Jumpers, jackets, dresses, business suits, ties

Examples of workwear that you might not fit your dress code at work include:

  • Mini-skirts
  • Leisure shorts unless for PE or sports
  • Tracksuits unless for PE or sports
  • Offensive badges, emblems or logos on clothes
  • Indoor wearing of baseball caps
  • See-through clothing
  • Clothing with tears, holes and rips or that is not clean
  • Low cut tops, crop/vest tops etc.

primary school work experience dress code

Footwear is part of the overall dress and is generally expected to be safe, sensible, in good repair, smart and clean. Footwear is also important for safety, and some footwear, for example, flip flops, might not generally be acceptable. What about high heels – is this a safety concern for all or particular roles? Some roles may require specific footwear e.g. steel toe caps.

You might also consider whether you want to allow staff to wear trainers other than for sport?

As always, particular circumstances may need to be taken into account and exceptions made, for example, someone with swollen feet due to health or pregnancy.

Other Dress Code Aspects

It is not just clothing that should be covered by a dress code. Other issues might need to consider – some more controversial than others:

  • Tattoos : Are you happy for tattoos to be visible?  Maybe except where they are deemed to be offensive or inappropriate, in which case you may require them to be covered.
  • Jewellery and Piercing : Jewellery is generally acceptable so long as it does not present a health and safety hazard. Jewellery/piercings should also be removed where they are a risk to health and safety e.g. during PE.  What about other facial piercings  – are these acceptable?
  • Hair: While generally not an issue, there are potential health and safety issues, e.g when handling food or operating machinery, hair must be tied back/covered. Also, consider whether you would be happy if an employee dyed their hair bright orange? If not, then your dress code should make this clear.

Conclusion on Dress Code for School Staff

With the aid of this guide on school staff dress codes, you will be well equipped to outline what is appropriate and inappropriate workwear in your school. If you could use some more help with your HR department, take a look at our HR development solutions . Juniper Education is always looking to take schools and school staff further, together.

Stay in the loop

Subscribe to get our latest resources straight to your inbox. 

Related articles

Maintain website compliance and stay ready for ofsted inspections, bike to school week.

primary school work experience dress code

Managing your school through a pandemic

primary school work experience dress code

  • School office
  • Staff development
  • Websites and engagement

Who we help

  • Multi-academy trusts (MATs)
  • Case Studies
  • White Papers
  • Product Training Courses
  • © 2024 Juniper Education
  • Registered in England & Wales No: 11992947
  • VAT No: GB324107247
  • Privacy policy
  • Terms of service

primary school work experience dress code

Think Student

What Should You Wear To Work Experience?

In General by Think Student Editor December 22, 2023 Leave a Comment

Work experience can be a fun and exciting time, since it’s the first opportunity most students have to actually acquire some hands-on practical experience. However, this also means that much of the workplace etiquette is probably new to you, and that’s okay! One question many students find themselves asking before their first work experience placement is this: what do you actually have to wear?

Although most work experience settings will likely not have an official dress code or uniform, the general rule is that you should wear something ‘smart casual’. This means that you don’t have to turn up in a suit, but you shouldn’t turn up in a tracksuit, either. A button up shirt or blouse, trousers or a pencil skirt, and appropriate shoes (such as flats) are what most companies expect students completing work experience to wear.

Still stuck? Don’t worry! This article is here to help you decide what to wear on your work experience.

Table of Contents

Do you have to wear uniform to work experience?

Generally, you probably won’t be required to wear any sort of special uniform to your work experience. However, there may be situations in which you will be asked to wear a uniform!

For example, if you were completing work experience for a charity shop, a café or a sports centre, you may be required to wear their uniform.

If the company you’re undertaking work experience with does have a uniform, it should be provided to you. For ideas on where to go for work experience, I’d recommend checking out this Think Student article!

However, most places don’t require uniforms. You will typically be expected to use your own judgement when it comes to what you’re going to wear.

If you’re really unsure as to the dress code of your employer, it’s never a bad idea to call/email to ask; after all, asking questions shows initiative which employers are looking for!

Work experience is important, so don’t let any anxieties about what you have to wear put you off. Check out this Think Student article for reasons why work experience is important.

What should you wear to work experience?

What you’ll wear to your work experience will very likely depend on the kind of setting you’re entering . Different things will be appropriate for different places!

As a general rule, it’s probably best to avoid casual clothing, such as graphic t-shirts, jeans, a tracksuit, cargo trousers, leggings, shorts, trainers (unless dark and/or inconspicuous) or sandals.

However, there are some situations in which these clothes may be appropriate. For example, if your work experience is in a nursery class, some dark jeans (that you don’t mind getting dirty!) won’t be inappropriate.

For most settings, ‘smart’ and office wear is the safest play . These include button up shirts, blouses, trousers, pencil skirts, and appropriate shoes are what you can expect to be wearing.

‘Smart casual’ clothes, like smart dresses and polo shirts, for example, are also acceptable. Make sure you wear something you will be comfortable in, and generally trust your judgement!

You probably won’t be required to wear something as formal as a suit, for example.

As mentioned previously, if you are really unsure of what to wear, asking the company you’ll be sitting work experience under is never a bad option. You can also check out this article from Success at School for more advice about what to wear on work experience.

Is there a dress code for work experience?

No, most workplaces will not have an official dress code for students who want to take up work experience there. However, companies will still have a general idea of what they want their employees to wear even if this is not officially stated.

As stated earlier in this article, if there is no official guidance on what you should wear, contacting your work experience placement is always a good place to start.

After all, you may find that the workplace dress code is more strict/lenient than you were expecting!

Anyone who is taking up a work experience placement will not be expected to conform strictly to the dress code of wherever your placement is, as an actual employee would be.

That doesn’t mean that you are free to completely ignore it, of course! However, if you, for example, didn’t wear the kind of shoes set out in the dress code, your employer probably won’t mind too much since you are only there for work experience.

Overall, make sure what you wear is appropriate, comfortable, and within the general standards of your setting.

Will you be expected to wear something in particular for work experience?

Unless your employer directly tells you that you must wear something specific to your work experience (which is unlikely), then your employers will leave it up to your personal judgement to decide what is best .

They may still have expectations of what you will be wearing, though.

Because of the age you complete work experience (Year 10 and/or Year 12), you will most likely know a bit about the company you’re sitting your placement under. This might be, for example, because one of your family members works there.

Therefore, employers will know this, and they will probably expect you to have a rough idea of what they are looking for.

Most employers expect work experience students to dress smart-casually. This usually means a smart shirt (ironed or press), and some sensible bottoms (trousers or a skirt of appropriate length, whichever your preference is) .

Check out this article from Indeed for a full guide to the smart-casual dress code.

For transgender students undertaking work experience, government guidance states that you are entitled to wear the clothing of the gender you identify as (if your company has a uniform)!

Can you be removed from work experience because of what you wear?

It’s very unlikely that you’ll be removed from a setting for what you were wearing, but it is definitely possible. If you are wearing something inappropriate in a setting, then your employer may ask you to change or leave.

For example, if you were sitting work experience at a bank, and you turned up in a tracksuit, the company would probably ask you to change into something more appropriate.

Remember, you are just sitting work experience (for free) at a setting, you are not an employee, so it is much easier for companies to turn you away if you are dressing (or even acting) inappropriately.

If you’re unsure as to whether something you’re wearing might be considered inappropriate, it’s better not to wear it and be on the safe side.

However, if you feel you are being unfairly discriminated against during your work experience because of what you are wearing, this is a different issue.

You should contact the company you are sitting work experience under, or your school, if you feel you are being discriminated against for your clothing (such as religious items of clothing).

Bullying in the workplace is never acceptable no matter whether you are a full-time employee or just attending work experience!

guest

  • Our Mission

Illustration 3D rendering of a plastic toy kit containing a selection of wardrobe pieces for educators

Are Dress Codes for Educators Simply Out of Fashion?

As the business and tech worlds move away from enforcing strict dress codes, it’s time to reevaluate what’s expected of educators.

It’s not unusual to see Alexis Neumann, the superintendent of Rapoport Academy Public Schools, wearing jeans to work, and the district head doesn’t bat an eye when she sees staff members dressed similarly.

As the leader of a small group of charter schools in Waco, Texas, serving predominantly low-income families, Neumann acknowledges that the work, though rewarding, is challenging—physically, emotionally, and cognitively. It’s important that her team feel comfortable while they do it.

“We require a lot of our teachers,” she says. “One of the things we expect is that they are with kids, on the ground with them, in community with them. That’s really hard to do in a suit or in heels.”

Though there are several nearby schools where educators are asked to dress more formally, a relaxed dress code policy has been a hallmark of school culture across all of the Rapoport Academy campuses since the schools were founded in 1998. And they haven’t seen any reasons to reconsider. Though the arguments for stricter dress codes are many—they reinforce school discipline, reduce classroom distractions, and mirror societal expectations, advocates say—Neumann reports no negative impact from Rapoport’s dress policies. In fact, it’s an approach they believe has paid off, something the district leads with and explicitly communicates when recruiting new talent. 

In a candidates’ market, where schools are competing against each other for the best of the best, the difference between an educator taking one job over the next may come down to the details. Neumann sees relaxed dress code as a signal of a supportive culture and an incentive worth mentioning: “Putting that statement in the forefront lets us have follow-up conversations about what we really emphasize,” she explains. “We’re not worried about what you wear. We’re really only worried about the learning that’s happening in the classroom. We treat our staff as professionals, and they respond as such.” 

A BONE OF CONTENTION

The subject of educator dress has long been a hot-button issue. While many would agree that clothing shouldn’t “distract from student learning, disrupt the school environment, or cause disharmony in the workplace,” as one typical policy puts it , what that means in practice is not only open for interpretation but often up for debate. 

In 2008, a teachers’ union in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, expressed concerns to the school board over inequitable variances in dress code across the district : One school’s principal allowed educators to wear capri pants and blue jeans, another prohibited the same items, while yet another required an educator’s shoes to match their outfit. The Jefferson Federation of Teachers deemed this to be unfair. “We have this disparate treatment across the parish. We’re one school system, and all employees need to be treated the same,” said the union’s secretary-treasurer, Meladie Munch. 

After noticing some staff straying from what he considered “professional attire,” a New York City elementary school principal banned jeans, flip-flops, and gym clothes in 2012; reactions were mixed. “I think we need to teach our children early on that there’s a certain way you dress to go to a ball game versus going to your job,” principal Marlon Hosang explained, undoubtedly speaking for many. But a parent in the community, Noemi Hernandez, found the policy too strict for an elementary school: “They’re dealing with paint and all kinds of things sitting on the floor,“ she said. “I don’t see anything wrong with jeans or even sneakers.” 

Politics can find its way into wardrobes, too. In 2022, an administrator in Kershaw County, South Carolina, asked two teachers wearing Black History Month shirts to change them. Initially, he concluded that “no shirts with writing on them” other than the school’s name would be permitted but later changed course, permitting shirts commemorating birthdays or other holidays. Recently, the school district of Waukesha in Wisconsin adopted what they’re calling a “business casual” dress code, which explicitly excludes educators from wearing T-shirts, jeans, sweatshirts, sweatpants, “tight or ill-fitting clothing,” tennis shoes, and baseball caps, among other items. Their reasoning? Staff members, the policy suggests, must “set an example in dress and grooming for their students to follow.” 

But many, like Erika Niles, principal of Green Trails Elementary School in Missouri, worry that dress codes for educators are an extension of other forms of professional micromanagement and control—ones that stifle identity and perpetuate the idea that “there is a dominant culture to which we all should adhere.” She adds she’s never had to address inappropriate educator dress in her two years as a school leader. “The pushback I’ve heard is… ‘Well, what if they wear a Speedo?’ Quite frankly, I trust my teachers to make those professional decisions,” she says. “Teachers are professionals. They should be given autonomy and trust unless they prove otherwise. And then, it’s a conversation and not a reprimand. We are in this together.”

Absent high-level direction from national educator groups or the U.S. Department of Education, school boards, superintendents, and principals are left to make decisions based on what they personally believe constitutes professional, appropriate dress. Educators occupy a uniquely precarious position, since many regard them as setting an example for how students should dress as adults—even if that‘s not the message they‘re trying to send with what they wear. 

“What you don’t want to do is dress like your students,” says Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association. “You want to set a tone that you are a role model, and this is what a responsible adult looks like in today‘s world.”

But have we taken stock of what it means to dress appropriately in a rapidly evolving professional landscape? If one goal of educator dress codes is to model real-world career norms for students, then ironically, relaxing the policies may be the more logical decision.

WHAT DOES A PROFESSIONAL LOOK LIKE?

The trend toward more casual dress began as early as 10–15 years ago, workplace culture expert Jamie Notter told NPR in 2019, about the time millennials began entering the workforce. As the largest generation of adults living in the United States today, millennials have surpassed baby boomers in numbers, and the trend of employers moving away from more formal attire is growing to suit their new employees‘ needs. 

Some of the largest, most profitable companies in the world, like Apple and Facebook (Meta)—where the same needs for productivity, focus, and self-control are germane as they are in schools—have shifted toward the new normal, allowing employees to wear T-shirts and casual tops, jeans, and sneakers like their respective founders, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Hundreds of thousands of highly paid employees at these companies are regularly releasing world-changing products, from software you can talk with to self-driving cars. The companies think “that if employees are comfortable in what they are wearing, they can do their best work and feel more excited and included to come to work,” writes futurist Jacob Morgan for Inc . 

The pandemic raised the ante yet again, transforming what people wore to work, and industries across the country adapted to the times to support it. Trend forecasters are calling it a transition from “business casual” to “business comfort,” according to Martine Paris for Bloomberg , with employees returning to their physical places of work dressed in some of the loungewear and athleisure they’d grown accustomed to. 

Many companies have followed suit without apparent repercussions to employee performance. In 2019, investment banking behemoth Goldman Sachs loosened guidelines to welcome what they called a more “flexible” dress sense; female flight attendants on airline Virgin Atlantic can now wear pants whenever they fly and work without wearing makeup; and department store Target began allowing employees to wear blue jeans—a significant shift from their signature red shirts and khakis, NPR ’s Janhvi Bhojwani reports . 

For a lot of schools, meanwhile, the transition has been much more slow-moving and fraught. Some view trends away from more formal dress as unprofessional, at times bordering on inappropriate. Others think of educator dress codes as a thin veil separating order and chaos inside classrooms—a factor that significantly impacts whether educators are respected and how easy classes are to manage, as well as student productivity levels and academic outcomes. 

But there’s not a lot of evidence for it. Meanwhile, in Missouri’s Boonville School District, assistant superintendent Fred Smith has observed similar positive benefits of relaxing dress codes, as in the business world. “We wanted to minimize stress on our teachers,” he says. “Educators have thanked administrators many times for the ‘comfortable’ work environment and less stress during the pandemic.” Smith and the superintendent agree that there have been no negative reactions or repercussions—no spikes in misbehavior, significant dips in academic performance, or general complaints. Rather, he’s noticed that students feel more confident speaking and building relationships with their teachers. 

Amid more relaxed dress guidelines, Smith has every bit of faith that his staff will continue to bridge the gap between comfort and professionalism, stating emphatically that “our teachers are true professionals and dress appropriately for the occasion.” 

A WAY FORWARD

The controversy surrounding educator dress code may appear to some like a trivial tug of war—especially in context with pressing systemic issues like student and staff mental health or inadequate school funding—but these policies remain an important background condition for many employees.

Though schools are not businesses, working to provide a high-quality education is not wholly unlike working to create and sustain high-quality products and services. Both environments require employees to be trustworthy, innovative, dedicated, and adaptable—and recent developments in the business world indicate that productivity, professionalism, and more relaxed dress codes can coexist. One way to think about it: Why shouldn’t schools be open to adapting, embracing, and incorporating what other industries have seamlessly and successfully adopted without adverse effects—particularly if it means that school environments will feel more inclusive and that educators will be happier or even perform better?

In a 2019 survey of 2,000 employed Americans conducted by One Poll, 82 percent said that feeling comfortable in their clothes at work allowed them to be more productive, while 56 percent said that comfortable clothes were a major contributor to their work confidence. Seventy-one percent said that working in casual clothes allowed them to focus on their work, rather than their outfits. 

Determining what feels balanced and equitable for one set of educators doesn’t necessarily translate throughout the school, let alone the district or state. Well-meaning incentives like charging educators a fee for the ability to dress more casually can come off as demeaning or arbitrary, says high school English teacher Kelly Scott. In many districts, jeans particularly seem to be “the one touch point that administrators want to control over everything else,” but Scott isn‘t quite sure of why: “I [sometimes] wonder if this is just another way to show that there is someone in control, to kind of keep us feeling like we can’t just go rogue.”

After years of paying $25 to purchase a “jeans pass,” which allows staff to wear jeans on Mondays, Scott decided she was done spending her hard-earned money. “If educators can survive a pandemic and teach at the level that they were teaching with all of these different extenuating circumstances, then obviously what we wear doesn’t have much or any bearing on an educator’s ability to teach inside the classroom,” she says.

Having no dress code at all can lead to all sorts of unexpected challenges—providing educators who may be looking for guidance with more questions than answers. But increasingly, strict dress codes can feel like a jarring disconnect from the way other professional fields are treated, and they run the risk of leaving staff feeling micromanaged, restricted, and diminished. 

Executive director of the Association of American Educators Colin Sharkey believes that working together to cocreate dress code policies can prevent misunderstandings and confusion. Intentional conversations between school board members, school leaders, staff, and parents about expectations and how to meet them can help all groups come to a common understanding.

“Members of Congress have to wear suits when they’re on the floor of Congress, but when they’re campaigning, they wear something different,” Sharkey explains. “There’s different attire for different circumstances. If there’s buy-in from the staff, they’ve agreed to a certain dress code, and it’s written clearly and fairly, there’s far fewer opportunities for frustration and discomfort. Everything depends on the type of educator environment that you teach in and what the community has come up with.” 

Some schools, like Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, New Jersey, despite largely suspending the educator dress code during online instruction, have gradually made their way back to their prepandemic expectations. Teacher dress mirrors student dress: Oxford-style button-down shirt, dress pants, and tie. Women on the faculty are expected to dress similarly, business casual or better. Humanities teacher Henry Seton acknowledges that what works for them may not work for other schools, and that’s OK. “Just as with students, school leaders have the right to set a dress code for adults with the school’s mission in mind, but ideally it should also be as minimally restrictive as possible so as not to limit teacher expression and identity,” he says. 

Meanwhile, back in Missouri at Green Trails Elementary School, Principal Niles has a lot of other things on her mind outside of dress codes. She says that if asked, she wouldn’t be able to recall what her staff wore that day because she was busy focusing on more important matters, like the way educators interacted with kids and one another. “There’s not a whole lot I love more in this world than teachers,” she says. “They are the hardest-working people I know. And I think my greatest responsibility as a leader is to eliminate distractions that get in the way of meeting the needs of students. To me, that’s what a dress code is. It’s a distraction.”

As for the educator whose recent Tweet drew attention on Twitter when she shared that she was dress-coded for wearing bell-bottom jeans to school on a ’70s dress day, violating the school’s denim policy, Niles had a few words for her. “That brilliant woman in her bell-bottom jeans would be welcome in our school any day,” she said. “And the only thing I might ask is where she got them.”

Lesson 9: Appropriate Attire

Name(s) of student(s):

Age and grade level:

Goal from IEP connected to lesson:

Objective from IEP connected to lesson:

Purpose of lesson: Determine appropriate attire for possible work experiences.

Materials needed: Internet search engine, variety of fabric (cotton, wool, linen, polyester, etc.), iron, ironing board. If possible, taking a group of students on a field trip to a superstore such as Wal-Mart or Target is ideal.

Introduction

“Last time we discussed proper workplace etiquette. Today we will learn how to dress appropriately for work.”

Discussion: Why Appropriate Attire is Important

Facilitate lesson with a motivating discussion such as, “Suppose you introduce yourself to a new student in your high school. What forms your first impression of them?” Prompt students to consider friendliness, level of enthusiasm, whether or not the conversation is balanced with both participants asking and answering questions (just as a ball is thrown back and forth), etc. Talk about how a sighted person will also consider what the new student is wearing and how they look. Especially at a job site, appropriate clothing and grooming give others the impression of competence and professionalism. Inappropriate, mismatched, or wrinkly clothing might give someone the impression that you don’t take your job seriously or are as messy in your work as you are in your appearance.

Ask students to think about the jobs they will apply to. What would be too casual to wear to work? What would be too formal? Are the standards the same for someone moving boxes in a warehouse as someone working at a receptionist’s desk?

Teach students the importance of dressing to the standards of a particular workplace. Working in a warehouse may lend itself to jeans and t-shirts, a restaurant might require a specific uniform, and working in a hospital gift shop will require business casual such as khaki pants and a polo shirt, etc.

Explain that the formality of clothing can generally be detected by fabric choice. Denim and cotton are casual, polyester and linen are generally business casual, and silk or beaded clothing are generally very formal. Present examples.

Exercise: Researching Appropriate Apparel

Have students research specific dress codes, uniforms, or standards for their desired job(s) by using an online search engine, asking a mentor, and/or inquiring of any personal references.

Discussion: Caring for Clothing

Talk about how clothing selection is just one part of dressing appropriately for work. How you care for clothes also makes a difference. Discuss proper care for different fabrics (washing vs. dry cleaning, why wrinkle-free clothing is essential, etc.) Have a student demonstrate ironing a top and slacks. If the student has not learned to iron clothing, begin teaching it with the iron powdered off.

Discussion: Fit Makes a Difference

Emphasize the importance of well-fitting and modest clothing. Poorly fitting and/or immodest clothing (define immodest as shorts or skirts shorter than just above the knee and any clothing revealing undergarments) does not present a professional appearance.

Field Trip: Identifying Professional Clothing

If possible, take students to a superstore like Wal-Mart or Target and play a game like “What Not to Wear.” Motivate students to search for three outfits: appropriate office attire, inappropriate office attire, and an outfit worn when seeking employment (such as when obtaining and/or returning a job application).

Divide students into two groups and offer a reward to the winning team. Have students try on and describe outfit choices. Encourage students to share the reasons for their selections.

Exercise: Considering Your Wardrobe

Ask students how they perceive their current clothing style and whether what they wear is appropriate for seeking and working at a summer job. Ask students if they are prepared for dressing appropriately for all stages of the employment process. For students who are not ready or who are unsure, brainstorm basic clothing to purchase and locations that sell the items, including second-hand clothing stores.

“Today, we discussed proper attire for possible work experiences. Next time we will find out who is hiring, and you will begin applying for jobs.”

Progress notes, data collection, comments, modifications:

Next steps/lesson: Applying for summer work experience.

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

  • Jump to Content
  • Jump to Site Tools

Become a subscriber to ask a question

We’re here to help

Get in touch with our friendly member success team to discuss membership and free trial options.

0800 061 4500

Help centre

Show your interest

Send your school leader an email with information about The Key Leaders and show your interest in renewing the membership.

Example SL request email

Email on the way

Your email has been sent. If you think they haven’t received it, ask them to check their spam folder.

You are here:

Staff dress codes: guidance and examples.

Read advice on whether you need a staff dress code and what it should include. Use examples of staff dress codes from primary, secondary and special schools to help you create your own.

Article tools

  • Save for later Remove saved item Saved -->
  • Share with colleagues
  • Rate this article

There is no requirement to have a staff dress code

  • Put your dress code in your staff code of conduct
  • Make sure your dress code is inclusive
  • Examples from schools

The NEU  does not recommend a formal dress code for staff in schools. 

If you choose to create a dress code, you can specify that staff should dress professionally and appropriately. 

Your dress code should allow for different circumstances

This includes taking health and safety into consideration, for example:

  • PE teachers to be allowed to wear trainers
  • Science staff to be allowed to wear lab coats

You should also allow for weather conditions. For example, if you expect male teachers to wear ties or jackets, you can specify that this does not mean during very hot days.

Your dress code must also be inclusive. Read more about this further down in this article.

If you do have a dress code, having it in your staff code of conduct or handbook means it is easier

This article is only available for members

Want to continue reading?

Start your free trial today to browse The Key Leaders and unlock 3 articles.

Already a member? Log in

primary school work experience dress code

Most popular

  • Flexible working policy: model and examples Updated

Also in ' Staff policies '

Start getting our trusted advice.

  • Thousands of up-to-the-minute articles
  • Hundreds of templates, letters and proformas
  • Lawyer-approved model policies

primary school work experience dress code

School Dress Codes Aren’t Fair to Everyone, Federal Study Finds

primary school work experience dress code

  • Share article

A North Carolina principal suspended a high school girl for 10 days and banned her from attending graduation and any senior activities because she wore a slightly off-shoulder top to school. An assistant principal in Texas drew on a Black boy’s head in permanent marker to cover up a shaved design in his hair. And a transgender girl in Texas was told not to return to school until she followed the school’s dress code guidelines for boys .

These are only three examples across the country over the past few years demonstrating how school dress codes disproportionately target girls, Black students, and LGBTQ students.

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that not only are school dress codes not equitable, but districts that enforce them strictly also predominantly enroll students of color. The findings come as schools increasingly clash with parents, students, and civil rights advocates over disciplinary procedures used to regulate what students can—and cannot—wear to school.

In this Sept. 7, 2018 photo, students socialize at Grant High School in Portland, Ore., after school let out. Portland Public Schools relaxed its dress code in 2016 after student complaints that the rules unfairly targeted female students and sexualized their fashion choices.

The report also calls on the U.S. Department of Education to develop resources and guidance to help schools create fairer policies and more equitable ways of enforcing them—particularly when it comes to disciplinary actions that cause students to miss out on learning time.

GAO researchers analyzed dress codes from 236 public school districts (there are more than 13,000 districts) and conducted interviews in three of them from August 2021 to October 2022.

Alyssa Pavlakis, a school administrator from Illinois who has studied school dress codes, said the findings were not a surprise. “It does not shock me that the reports are showing that these school dress codes are disproportionately affecting black and brown students,” she said, “because our schools were built on systems that were supposed to be predominantly for white people.”

Pavlakis’s research , published in 2018 with Rachel Roegman, concluded that school dress codes often sexualize girls, particularly Black girls, and effectively criminalize boys of color as their detentions and school suspensions mount.

What dress codes prohibit and who is impacted

Ninety-three percent of school districts have dress codes or policies on what students wear to school. School and district administrators said the policies promote safety and security for students. Prohibitions against hats or scarves, for instance, allow educators identify who is a student and who is not.

More than 90 percent of those dress codes, however, prohibit clothing typically associated with girls, commonly banning clothing items such as “halter or strapless tops,” “skirts or shorts shorter than mid-thigh,” and “yoga pants or any type of skin tight attire,” the report says.

Many of those policies, for example, prohibit clothing that exposes a student’s midriff. About a quarter of them specifically bar the exposure of “cleavage,” “breasts,” or “nipples,” which are aimed at female students.

Almost 69 percent prohibit items typically associated with boys, such as “muscle tees” and “sagging pants.”

“My girls definitely feel anger towards the school for not educating the boys and making [the girls] aware every day what they wear can be a distraction to the boys,” the report quotes an unnamed parent in one district as saying. Some parents told researchers the policies promote consistency with values their children learn at home.

102622 GAO Dress Code BS

Other policies fall heavily on students from racial or cultural groups that have traditionally been in the minority, according to the report. More than 80 percent of districts, for example, ban head coverings such as hats, hoodies, bandanas, and scarves, but only one-third of these dress codes specify that they allow religious exemptions, and a few include cultural or medical exemptions. Fifty-nine percent also contain rules about students’ hair, hairstyles, and hair coverings, which may disproportionately impact Black students, according to researchers and the district officials that GAO staff interviewed.

For example, 44 percent of districts with dress codes ban hair wraps, with some specifically naming durags, which are popular among African Americans for protecting curls or kinky hair, or other styles of hair wraps.

The report also cites dress codes with rules specific to natural, textured hair, which disproportionately affect Black students. For example, one district prohibited hair with “excessive curls” and another stated that “hair may be no deeper than two inches when measured from the scalp,” according to the report.

Pavlakis said while the report did not contain details about how dress codes affect transgender, gender-nonconforming, and nonbinary students, it’s an important aspect of their inequitable nature.

How districts enforce dress codes

About 60 percent of dress codes make staff members measure students’ bodies and clothing to check adherence to codes—which may involve adults touching students. An estimated 93 percent of dress codes also contain rules with subjective language that leave decisions about dress code compliance open to interpretation, the report says. The interpretations often target LGBTQ and Black students, according to experts quoted in the GAO report.

Schools that enroll predominantly students of color are more likely to enforce strict dress codes, and also more likely to remove students from class for violating them. This is particularly concerning because more than 81 percent of predominantly Black schools (where Black students make up more than 75 percent of the population) and nearly 63 of predominantly Hispanic schools enforce a strict dress code, compared to about 35 percent of predominantly white schools.

“When we take away that instructional time because they’re wearing leggings, we are doing our students a disservice,” Pavlakis said. “And at the end of the day, we’re doing our black and brown students a bigger disservice than anyone else.”

The report also found that schools with a larger number of economically disadvantaged students are more likely to enforce strict dress codes. Dress codes can be challenging for low-income families to adhere to, especially if they’re required to buy specific clothing items, such as uniforms, or can only allow their children to have hairstyles approved by schools, experts quoted in the report said.

Finally, schools that enforce strict dress codes are associated with statistically significant, higher rates of exclusionary discipline—that is, punishments that remove students from the classroom, such as in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, and expulsions.

That means students of color and poor students—most specifically, Black girls—are most likely to face consequences for violating school dress codes, causing them to miss class time. The more class they miss, the more likely it is that they will fall behind in school.

While dress code violations do not often result directly in exclusionary discipline such as suspensions and expulsions, an estimated 44 percent of dress codes outlined “informal” removal policies, such as taking a student out of class without documenting it as a suspension.

Districts also commonly list some consequences for violations of their dress code policies, such as requiring students to change clothes, imposing detention, and calling parents or guardians.

“In order for students to get to the point where they can learn, they need to feel a sense of belonging. They need to feel cared for and loved,” Pavlakis said.

“If we spend part of our day telling students, ‘you don’t look the right way. You’re not dressed the right way, you could be unsafe because you have a hat or a hood on,’ kids aren’t going to feel loved supported a sense of belonging,”

A version of this article appeared in the November 23, 2022 edition of Education Week as School Dress Codes Aren’t Fair to Everyone, Federal Study Finds

Sign Up for The Savvy Principal

Edweek top school jobs.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs an education overhaul bill into law, March 8, 2023, at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. On Monday, March 25, 2024, a high school teacher and two students sued Arkansas over the state's ban on critical race theory and “indoctrination” in public schools, asking a federal judge to strike down the restrictions as unconstitutional.

Sign Up & Sign In

module image 9

primary school work experience dress code

  • Primary Hub
  • Art & Design
  • Design & Technology
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Secondary Hub
  • Citizenship
  • Primary CPD
  • Secondary CPD
  • Book Awards
  • All Products
  • Primary Products
  • Secondary Products
  • School Trips
  • Trip Directory
  • Trips by Subject
  • Trips by Type
  • Trips by Region
  • Submit a Trip Venue

Trending stories

Actor playing Lady Macbeth

Top results

primary school work experience dress code

  • Teacher Dress Code Advice

Teacher dress code – advice from a deputy head

primary school work experience dress code

Ben Connor on dress codes for teachers, and why wearing trainers to work isn’t a hill worth dying on…

Ben Connor

Welcome to the profession, ECT!

Teaching is simultaneously the most difficult and most rewarding job you can do. What you’ll face over the next two years will challenge you to your limits – and that includes the behaviour of your colleagues.  

But there is one thing we need to discuss first, something which may not have made it into your day-one briefing: the staff dress code policy.  

You thought that once you had left school, you’d no longer be pulled up by the headteacher for the way you’re dressed. Ha! Think again. As a teacher, you are expected to: 

  • be able to put up displays and take them down again; 
  • teach in conditions ranging from arctic (when the heating is broken and the windows are open for ventilation) to tropical (when it’s 40 degrees and the DfE still won’t close schools); 
  • demonstrate forward rolls; 
  • chase after irate children who could give Steve McQueen a run for his money. 

The list goes on. And by the way, all this needs to be done while wearing sensible shoes that cover your toes, an outfit that’s not too tight but not too loose (health and safety!), and don’t forget the clothes shouldn’t look out of place in a book on Victorian etiquette.  

If you happen to be a male teacher, think bank manager and you can’t go far wrong. This applies in all weather conditions.

Sexist rules?

Sure, female staff can wear lighter clothes in the summer, but no-one genuinely believes tailored shorts on adult men is going to catch on. Sorry.  

I know you’ve heard there are some schools where you can ‘get away with it’, or ‘let the side down’ as some teachers might have it, but don’t get your hopes up.

Maybe your new school has jazzy, logo-emblazoned tracksuits for PE, or your headteacher is a new-age renegade who lets the children call you by your first name and allows anything, as long as it’s designer.

But there are also schools where reading the staff uniform policy will make you wonder whether lion taming might be an easier vocation – especially since you’d get the chair and the whip for free.  

Pupil uniform

Joking aside, there are of course some good reasons for a reasonable dress code policy. While you might have to suffer through the whole gamut of temperatures, most headteachers have a sensible attitude to extreme weather.

And as always, everything we do is ‘for the kids’.  

For some pupils, you might be the only professional person with whom they interact, the only positive role model they can look to and see themselves in the future.

It’s no wonder that, along with ‘Youtuber’ and ‘influencer’, the job of ‘teacher’ is a common aspiration for our students.

Not only are you their educator, but (hopefully) you’re someone the children will look up to. Dressing professionally is part of that.

Police officers, judges and doctors all have a uniform as part of their profession, so arguably, though we don’t have a uniform per se, teachers also need to look the part. 

Not only that but in practical terms, telling your feistiest Year 6 to take off their knock-off branded hoody so they ‘meet school policy’, when you’re wearing the same outfit, isn’t a good look.

Some might disagree, but pupil uniform is important, so we should make sure the way we dress reflects that.  

Dress code advice

My advice: 

  • Check your policy now.  Don’t spend money on clothes that will get you a one-way ticket to the head’s office. It’s simply not worth it.  
  • Buy clothes that are purely for work. You will get whiteboard ink on them. You will potentially get bodily fluids on them (not your own). Buy a small number of suitable outfits and make them last. 
  • Buy a thermal vest for the winter.  
  • Also buy a fan for your room. Some classrooms may have aircon, but yours likely won’t. You are new, after all. 

Ben Connor is a primary deputy headteacher at a school in Bury, Greater Manchester. He has been teaching for 13 years in various schools and currently leads on curriculum and teaching and learning. Follow Ben on Twitter @bbcTeaching

Sign up to our newsletter

You'll also receive regular updates from Teachwire with free lesson plans, great new teaching ideas, offers and more. (You can unsubscribe at any time.)

Which sectors are you interested in?

Early Years

Thank you for signing up to our emails!

You might also be interested in...

Cartoon of an open book

Why join Teachwire?

Get what you need to become a better teacher with unlimited access to exclusive free classroom resources and expert CPD downloads.

Exclusive classroom resource downloads

Free worksheets and lesson plans

CPD downloads, written by experts

Resource packs to supercharge your planning

Special web-only magazine editions

Educational podcasts & resources

Access to free literacy webinars

Newsletters and offers

Create free account

I would like to receive regular updates from Teachwire with free lesson plans, great new teaching ideas, offers and more. (You can unsubscribe at any time.)

By signing up you agree to our terms and conditions and privacy policy .

Already have an account? Log in here

Thanks, you're almost there

To help us show you teaching resources, downloads and more you’ll love, complete your profile below.

Welcome to Teachwire!

Set up your account.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing elit. Commodi nulla quos inventore beatae tenetur.

Log in to Teachwire

Not registered with Teachwire? Sign up for free

Reset Password

Remembered your password? Login here

close

  • Skip to Nav
  • Skip to Main
  • Skip to Footer

Landmark College

Are dress codes fair? How one middle school transformed its rules for what students wear

Please try again

Shirt, jumper and skirt hanging on yellow brick wall. School uniform

View the full episode transcript.

In 2018, following the reveal of a new dress code, students enthusiastically showed up to Alice Deal Middle School in spaghetti straps, flip flops and short hemlines. “It was just on parade,” said Principal Diedre Neal about students’ attire. With time, the strappy, short outfits leveled off. Neal said that while adolescents revel in novelty , their desire to be comfortable won out in the end: “They ran out of completely outrageous things. The completely outrageous things are also not comfortable or feasible.” 

The decision to reevaluate the dress code arose from the realization that the existing policies were no longer aligned with the needs of the students at Alice Deal, a public middle school in Washington, D.C. Prior to the change, students were pulled out of class if their outfits violated the school dress code. “They had their work. They were engaging. They were learning,” said Neal. “And we took them away from their learning to have a conversation about what they were wearing.” For instance, Zya Kinney, now 23, remembered getting pulled out of class by a teacher and being asked to do the “fingertip test” — a practice where students put their hand by their sides to see if the hemline of their shorts or skirts pass their fingertips. When Kinney’s skirt did not pass her fingertips, she had to change into her gym shorts. “I had to go back to that classroom,” said Kinney, who described herself as an insecure middle schooler. “That is embarrassing.”

To reshape the policy in a way that truly supported student learning and wellbeing, Neal embraced a school-wide approach. She knew that for an updated dress code to be successful and work for learners, it required the active involvement from the students and community members it would impact.

Identify the gaps

The catalyst for changing the dress code at Alice Deal came in the form of a dress code report written by Nia Evans from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and a group of students in 2018. The report brought to light the discriminatory and harmful effects of dress code policies at schools in D.C. Evans’ research focused on school pushout — when schools use exclusionary discipline practices that result in students leaving school altogether. “What we found in conversations with students, parents and teachers was that dress codes were consistently coming up as a massive contributor to school push out,” Evans said. 

She recruited over 20 young people ages 12 to 18 to research dress codes with her and produce a report on dress codes featuring the twelve schools they collectively attended in DC. Their findings exposed gender and race stereotypes within dress code policies. “They were using language saying girls need to cover up to avoid distracting boys or Black girls can’t wear head wraps because it’s unprofessional or it’s not neat,” said Evans.These policies resulted in harsh punishments ranging from disrupting classroom time to suspensions. According to a Government Accountability Office report , 90% of dress codes have policies that dictate what girls can wear. The NWLC found that Black girls, who had the highest suspension rate in the country compared to white girls, were being unfairly targeted by school dress codes. 

Uniforms, which are lauded as a way to reduce the appearance of economic disparity, proved to be an imperfect solution. Nearly 20% of the nation’s public schools and preschools require uniforms, according to the National Center for Education Statistics . Over the course of their research, students found that uniforms, often sold at specific stores, can become a financial burden for many families. They can also be limiting from a developmental standpoint. “You’re taking an opportunity away from students to be able to express themselves,” Evans said. The student researchers found that uniforms can alienate non-binary students. “We are enforcing what we think girls should look like and what boys should look like. We’re not creating a lot of space for any type of spectrum,” Evans added.

The student researchers proposed solutions for school leaders looking to improve their dress codes. They recommended the creation of dress code task forces, made up of teachers, administrators, parents, and students, to discuss whether a school’s dress code achieved the intended goals. They emphasized the importance of, allowing students to express their authentic selves, including cultural representations like headwraps and Black hairstyles. Additionally, students called for gender-neutral dress codes that didn’t require students to have to wear specific clothes because of their gender identity. They also suggested taking out vague language such as ‘distracting’ or ‘inappropriate’ from dress code policies, as it often leaves room for teacher bias and subjective interpretation.

Collaboration and communication

At Alice Deal, Principal Neal partnered with parent Deborah Zerwitz to get input from students and families before changing the dress code. Zerwitz drew insights from the NWLC report, as well as from student-centered practices from Evanston Township High School in Illinois , a school that had changed their dress code the year prior. Recognizing the need to foster a respectful and equitable learning environment, Evanston Township engaged in collaborative discussions involving students, parents, teachers, and administrators to redefine their dress code guidelines. 

Neal let parents know in her weekly newsletter that they could attend four listening sessions for students, parents and administrators to voice their ideas and opinions on the dress code. Listening sessions were offered at various times and locations on and off the school campus to make them as accessible as possible. To gather even more student feedback, Zerwitz put up poster boards outside of the school cafeteria with questions like:

  • “What changes would you make to the dress code?”
  • “What do you think about school uniforms?”
  • “What should the consequences be for violating a dress code?”

Students could stick post-it notes to the board with their answers or place anonymous ideas in  a shoebox with a slot in it.. 

Additionally, Neal and Zerwitz created a task force made up of student and parent volunteers. “Somebody’s got to put pen to paper at some point,” said Zerwitz. “We were trying to identify a core group of people that will actually take all this information and distill it.” The task force used the feedback from the listening sessions and posters to create the new dress code.

Empowering students and redefining dress code policies

Zerwitz and Neal received diverse feedback about the dress code, with students, particularly girls, expressing their desire to be heard and understood. “They wanted to say how it was making them feel. And they felt awkward. They felt like, ‘Why are these grown ups looking at me every morning and telling me something’s wrong?” Zerwitz said.

The consensus from teachers was that they did not like spending time enforcing the dress code. However, some teachers — usually older teachers, Zerwitz said — tended to think the students should dress professionally for school and were in favor of a strict dress code. 

Among parents, safety concerns surfaced. For example, a parent of two Black boys said that she likes using the dress code policies as a reason her son cannot wear hoodies to school. Citing concerns about stereotypes and racial profiling, especially considering incidents like the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, the parent explained  that she could “breathe a little bit easier when my two Black sons leave the house and they’re not wearing a hood.”

With support from the NWLC, Neal, Zerwitz and the task force members worked through these tensions. “Sometimes in wanting to protect our young people, we end up reinforcing the very inequalities that the world puts on them,” said Evans. “The solution to sexual harassment isn’t to get girls to cover up. The solution to police violence and racist violence is not to punish Black boys for wearing hoodies.”

Long-term benefits and impact

The results of the schoolwide effort to change the dress code came at the end of the 2017-18 school year when Alice Deal Middle School introduced a revised, gender non-specific and relaxed dress code. Students were required to cover the core of their bodies with opaque fabric, but there was greater flexibility with articles like crop tops and hoodies. Importantly, teachers were advised not to remove students from class if they violated the dress code. Principal Neal saw a decrease in dress code-related disciplinary actions. Students reported feeling more comfortable expressing their identities, which is associated with overall well-being . 

Despite the positive changes, in interviews last year, some students reported that certain staff members still commented on what they wore. “We’re still working with staff,” said Neal. “I need to check with students and see if people are dress coding them.”

The journey to a new dress code was a source of pride for students. In a graduation shortly after the revised dress code was implemented, Zerwitz listened to a student speaker talk about how the class collectively achieved this transformation. It was evident to Zerwitz that the students understood the power of their voices and felt empowered by the impact they had at their school. “Those kids — all of the ones that came to the listening sessions or wrote a note in the little box or whatever — all of them contributed in some way to this,” said Zerwitz. “And, hopefully, [they went to high school] knowing that their voice matters.”

Episode Transcript

This is a computer-generated transcript. While our team has reviewed it, there may be errors.

Nimah Gobir: Welcome to MindShift. Where we explore the future of learning and how we raise our kids. I’m Nimah Gobir.

Nimah Gobir: Every day, when students get ready in the morning, they are faced with a challenge: [dramatic music] deciding what to wear to school that day.

Nimah Gobir: They have to weigh a lot of factors. Like…What makes me feel comfortable? What’s the weather outside? And maybe even What will my crush in 3rd period think about my fit?  

Nimah Gobir: In 7th grade, when Zya Kinney was in her favorite outfit, you couldn’t tell her nothing.

Zya Kinney: I wore my red skirt with a spaghetti strap kind of tank top  – And I had no leggings on. I was feeling myself! 

Nimah Gobir: Zya’s twenty-three now. She was talking about when she was a student at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, DC. It was ten years ago, but she remembers how putting on the perfect outfit could make her feel good about herself.  

Zya Kinney: I would just put on whatever was comfortable and whatever was like kind of cute. And i would have my little pop out moments here and there.

Nimah Gobir: One of the reasons Zya remembers the outfit she wore is because it was the day she got dress coded. 

Nimah Gobir: That means she was in violation of the school’s rules that dictate what students should and should not wear. There’s usually language about visible skin, footwear and even hair in some cases. Most schools have them, but they can be flawed.

Leora Tanenbaum: The big irony, of course, that lies at the heart of school dress codes is that they are drafted with the intention of eliminating distraction and helping learners. But the opposite actually happens in the end because learners themselves are targeted and therefore they are unable to focus on learning. 

Nimah Gobir: That’s writer and researcher Leora Tanenbaum. She also calls out dress code incidents on her Instagram. 

Leora Tanenbaum: Where they go wrong is when they are gendered. When the codes are created with a presupposition that girls’ bodies pose a distraction to other learners and therefore girls’ bodies need to be covered up in a specific way. And therefore the dress code is drafted in a way that has different language and different rules depending on one’s gender.

Nimah Gobir: If you violate the dress code, a teacher might call you over to talk with you privately about your clothes or you’ll be sent to the principal’s office. You might have to do the fingertip test where you put your hands by your sides and see if your skirt or shorts go past your fingertips.

Leora Tanenbaum: It embarrasses the student. It makes her all of a sudden very aware of her physicality in a way that she may not have been at all. The teacher might assume she was aware of her physicality but you can’t assume that.

Nimah Gobir: Zya was in class when she got dress coded. 

Zya Kinney: My teacher gave us some work to do. Like just busy work or whatever. And she’s like, ‘Can I talk to you, you know, outside the classroom?’  You know, I think I’m not even thinking it has something to do with my outfit.  She said ” Your skirt is too short.” 

Nimah Gobir: When Zya put her hands at her sides, her middle fingertips were just barely past her skirt!

Zya Kinney: and, do you know, they made me change it to my gym shorts? I’m walking around here, cute up top, gym down, down…down below, like I’m not looking the same. And I remember being so upset about it because it’s like, Why are you sexualizing a seventh grader? 

Nimah Gobir: To her, it was so much more than having to change clothes. She was trying to fit in and be  confident and her school basically told her that she was doing it wrong.

Zya Kinney: I can’t lie and tell you that the popular girls weren’t wearing the skirts and had all the new things. They had the accessories. They had like three different book bags in rotation when I had just the one backpack. And I definitely remember seeing the difference in attention that they would get from guys and stuff like that, and then even their girlfriends. Like I felt like they were always the ones that you chose for stuff or, you know, they were like the most likable people and everything. And while I was, I was okay with myself, but I was also really insecure too. [00:07:01][19.3]

Nimah Gobir: Zya, who’s Black, also noticed something else about the dress codes…   

Zya Kinney: It wasn’t until I started wearing skirts and dresses and I noticed how my white friends wouldn’t have anything said to them about what they have on. And I realized, okay, if I wear a skirt and she wears a skirt, we have on two different skirts.  

Nimah Gobir: And Zya was on to something. Here’s researcher and writer Nia Evans.  

Nia Evans: I’m basically a Black girl who grew up in D.C. And when I was working at the National Women’s Law Center, we were doing a lot of research about what we call school push out.

Nimah Gobir: School push out is basically when schools use disciplinary actions that exclude students. These discipline practices often end up forcing students out of school altogether.

Nia Evans: What we found was that dress codes were consistently coming up as a massive contributor to school push out. That black girls in particular were being unfairly targeted by school dress codes. But not only were they being treated differently in school, they were being removed from schools.

Nimah Gobir: At the time she was doing this research – around 2018. Black girls had some of the highest suspension rates in the country. So high that the obama administration opened investigations into school discipline policies.  back then black girls were 20 times more likely to be suspended than white girls. And to be clear, it was not because Black girls were misbehaving more, it’s because they were being targeted by harsher rules.

Nia Evans: We decided to partner with the experts when it comes to dress codes, which is students. We recruited over 20 young people, ages 12 to 18 from 12 different high schools in Washington, D.C., to be our co-researchers. 

Nimah Gobir: Nia worked with them to produce a report about their experiences with dress codes and how they’re enforced. What they found confirmed Zya’s suspicions: for black students, dress codes hit different.

Nia Evans: Dress codes often are steeped in race and gender stereotypes.   They were using language saying, you know, girls need to cover up to avoid from distracting boys or black girls can’t wear head wraps because it’s unprofessional or it’s not neat. 

Nia Evans: At a high level, a lot of these rules are sort of remnants of racist, sexist ideas and are invested in and are a mechanism to sort of keep students in line and to communicate a certain narrative around what it means to be professional, what it means to be neat, what it means to be successful. 

Nimah Gobir: Many schools will defend their dress code saying that they want their students to be prepared to dress for jobs as an adult, but that’s open to interpretation. Different jobs require different clothes. Zya, the 23 year old I spoke to dresses pretty casually for her job at ABC studios because she’s running around delivering scripts to producers all day. 

Nimah Gobir: When dress codes come into question, sometimes the response is to put kids in uniforms – almost half of schools and preschools use uniforms now. It makes sense… If everyone has to wear the same thing that means no more problems right? Well… not necessarily.  Here’s Nia again.

Nia Evans: From a growth standpoint, you’re taking an opportunity away from students to be able to express themselves. Uniforms are often gender specific, which means, again, we are enforcing what we think girls should look like, boys should look like. We’re not creating a lot of space for any in between any type of spectrum. 

Nimah Gobir:   The students that Nia worked with offered a few solutions.

Nia Evans: A lot of them recommended that schools create dress code task force forces, where teachers and administrators and parents and students can come together and really start with the question of what is the goal of this? Why do we have a dress code? What is the point? Is it achieving its goals? And if it’s not, do we need it?  

Nia Evans: So it really ignited, I think, a long overdue issue in D.C. And we saw a lot of student and parent activism as a result of it. And some teachers and administrators listened.  

Nimah Gobir: News of this report reached the principal at  Zya’s former school – Alice Deal middle school. And when we get back from the break we’ll hear about what THE principal did when she took a closer look at her school’s dress code. Her reaction may surprise you.

Nimah Gobir: When I talked to Principal Diedre Neal from Alice Deal Middle School she said that moments ago there were three young women in her office. One was wearing ripped jeans, another was wearing a tube top, and another wearing a spaghetti strap tank top. Ordinarily, they all would have gotten dress coded, but something amazing happened: Principal Neal didn’t care. 

Nimah Gobir: And that’s significant because dress codes used to be a situation…

Diedre Neal: Every spring when children wanted to shift from, you know, long pants to shorts and skirts, there would be either commentary or and I’m smiling because there was always a petition. It was always a petition. And I remember saying, “I can’t wait until we solve this issue, and then you can move on and give me a petition for something else.”

Nimah Gobir: After reading the dress code report, Principal Neal recognized that it was probably time for dress codes to change.

Diedre Neal: Over time, like enforcing it. I would say there was cognitive dissonance.  People were being sent out of class to address what they had on. So they were in class , they had their work, they were engaging, they were learning, and so we took them away from their learning to have a conversation about what they were wearing. 

Nimah Gobir:   She needed to figure out what it would take to make Alice Deal’s dress code work in favor of learning. To get started, Principal Neal partnered  with a parent named Debb Zerwitz.

Debb Zerwitz: We announced that we were going to be creating a task force to review and update the dress code.

Nimah Gobir: They created a little set up outside the school cafeteria .

Debb Zerwitz: We put up big poster boards with questions like.

Debb Zerwitz: What changes would you make to the dress code? What do you think about school uniforms? And what should the consequences be for violating a dress code?

Nimah Gobir: They had post-it notes in all these different colors so students could stick their ideas to the poster board. And they had 4 listening sessions where they would get feedback and input from students, administrators and parents. They had conversations with parents who wanted to keep the dress code for really valid reasons. For example, a lot of schools don’t let students wear hoodies. Black parents didn’t want their kids wearing hooded sweatshirts out the door because of Trayvon Martin.

[News clip Reporter: Trayvon Martin was wearing a gray hoodie the night he was killed, a fact that caught the attention of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.  Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something.  Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?  Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie. Like a gray hoodie.  Reporter: A few minutes later Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, he claims, in self defense.]

Nimah Gobir: One Black parent in one of the listening sessions, said she liked having the support of the school dress code, to keep her child from wearing hoodies . 

Debb Zerwitz: She said I can point to the policy and say you’re going to get in trouble and you’re going to get you’re going to have to change your clothes and it’s going to be embarrassing that that helps me at home if there’s a policy. Who the hell am I to, like, dismiss this mother telling me like, I like the dress code? And this is one of the reasons why. Like, of course I hear you. You know I do.

Nimah Gobir: Another thing that surfaced in the listening sessions were some generational differences. In many cases it’s older Black adults telling younger black kids that they need to look more presentable.  In other words, they leaned into respectability politics, a way of trying to navigate prejudice and discrimination by making oneself match the visual standards set by those in power. . It’s basically saying, “Hey, look, we’re just like you, so you should respect us and treat us better!”

Nimah Gobir: Nia — she’s the researcher who made the dress code report with students — noticed respectability politics in dress codes too.

Nia Evans: You also have a deeper layer of Black teachers and young people and parents who love each other, who are really struggling with how to keep kids safe. And the same way the solution to sexual harassment isn’t to get girls to cover up. The solution to police violence and racist violence is not to punish black boys for wearing hoodies. 

Nia Evans: I don’t think you can dress your way out of racism and sexism. I don’t. And I also think that sometimes in wanting to protect our young people, we end up reinforcing the very inequalities that the world puts on them.

Nia Evans: Dress codes actually hold a lot of our values and fears and anxieties as a culture. It says a lot about how we want students and young people to move through the world, how we want to protect them, how we want to set them up for success and our baggage as a culture around race and gender and sexuality and different identities. 

Nimah Gobir: Based on what she learned from all the feedback , Principal Neal with the help of Deb and the National Women’s Law Center ended up changing their dress code to be more casual and gender nonspecific. Technically, students are required to wear clothing that covers the core of the student’s body including private areas and midriff, with opaque fabric. But no one really says anything about crop tops. Even if a student is in violation of the dress code they are not supposed to be taken out of class. 

Nimah Gobir: When the dress code changed, students had an enthusiastic response. All the clothing they couldn’t wear before was on display. Here’s Principal Neal again.

Principal Neal: It was just on parade and then they ran out of the completely outrageous things and it leveled off.

Nimah Gobir: A student even mentioned  in their graduation speech the way Alice Deal middle school’s student body had worked together to change the dress code. It was clear that being part of creating meaningful change at their school felt really empowering to students. 

Nimah Gobir: To find out what Alice Deal Middle School Students are wearing these days we went straight to the source. These students may be walking down hallways instead of the red carpet, but I still wanted to know “Who are you wearing?” “How did you achieve this look?” 

Student 1: I like to put on something that’ll make me comfortable and also make me feel good. 

Student 2: Jewelry is a really big part of like, what I wear. 

Student 3:  I’m wearing leggings right now, but that’s kind of just because it’s kind of colder right now than it normally is.

Student 2: I have a lot of bracelets on most of the time.

Student 1: Right now I’m just wearing sweatpants and my Reeboks, which are the shoes that I like to wear because they’re comfortable.

Student 4: I mostly wear crocs.

Nimah Gobir: Sweatpants. Crocs. Leggings. They sound pretty unburdened. And you know what else….they sound comfy.

Student: I feel like, in a sense, we don’t really have a dress code like we’re allowed to wear what we want. But like to a certain point. 

Nimah Gobir: But not all teachers and administrators are fully on board. Some students mentioned that there are still teachers at the school who call them out for what they’re wearing.

Nimah Gobir: It’s one thing to change a policy, but it’s another thing to change the hearts and minds of all the administrators and teachers. Here’s principal Neal talking about next steps.

Diedre Neal: We’re still working with staff. I now know that I need to check with students and see if people are dress coding them. 

Nimah Gobir: Some might call what Principal Neal did intellectual humility. It involves recognizing the limits of what you think you know. When Principal Neal learned more from students, parents and research, she realized the dress codes might be doing more harm than good. 

Nimah Gobir: Alice Deal Middle School set out to re-evaluate their dress code and even though they’re still working with teachers on changing their mindsets, it is a step towards better reflecting the needs and identities of their students. It’s important to involve students in the process of creating policies that impact them. While it may not solve every problem, it is an essential step towards finding more equitable and inclusive solutions. 

Nimah Gobir: Thank you to Lawrence Lanahan, Zya Kinney, Leora Tanenbaum, Nia Evans, Debb Zerwitz, Principal Diedre Neal and students at Alice Deal Middle School

Nimah Gobir: The MindShift team includes Ki Sung, Kara Newhouse, Marlena Jackson Retondo and me, Nimah Gobir. Our editor is Chris Hambrick, Seth Samuel is our sound designer, Jen Chien is our head of podcasts, and Holly Kernan is KQED’s chief content officer.

Nimah Gobir: MindShift’s intellectual humility series is supported by the Greater Good Science Center’s “Expanding Awareness of the Science of Intellectual Humility” project and the Templeton Foundation.

Nimah Gobir: MindShift is also supported in part by the generosity of the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and members of KQED. Thank you for listening!

Teach State Savers

Pros and Cons of Dress Code: What Teachers Should Consider

Debbie J. Bernal

June 10, 2023

primary school work experience dress code

As students head back to school, one topic that has been gaining attention across the globe is dress codes. While some argue that dress codes promote a professional environment, others argue that they limit self-expression and creativity. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of dress codes, as well as the perspectives of teachers. We will also provide practical steps for taking action, including how to understand and advocate for inclusive and equitable dress codes. By recognizing the benefits and drawbacks of dress codes and prioritizing respect and dignity in the school environment, we can encourage a balanced and thoughtful approach to this complex issue.

1. Promotes a professional environment

1. promotes a professional environment, 2. reduces distractions and peer pressure, 3. fosters a sense of unity and equality, fosters a sense of unity and equality, 1. limits self-expression and creativity, 2. may reinforce gender stereotypes and cultural biases, 3. may lead to body shaming and discrimination, 1. importance of enforcing dress codes, 2. need for flexibility and sensitivity to students’ backgrounds, 3. consideration of teachers’ own dress code, 1. understand the school’s dress code policy, 2. start a dialogue with students and parents, 3. advocate for inclusive and equitable dress codes, 4. support organizations that provide resources and support, 1. recognize the benefits and drawbacks of dress codes, 2. encourage a balanced and thoughtful approach, 3. prioritize respect, dignity, and learning in the school environment, what are the benefits of dress codes, what are the drawbacks of dress codes, why do some schools have dress codes, how do dress codes affect students’ academic performance, do dress codes reinforce gender stereotypes, how can teachers enforce dress codes while being sensitive to students’ backgrounds, what can students and parents do if they disagree with the dress code policy, can dress codes lead to discrimination and body shaming, what resources are available for schools to develop inclusive and equitable dress codes, what is the best approach to dress codes in schools, pros of dress codes.

Pros Of Dress Codes

Dress codes have the potential to promote a professional environment that is conducive to learning. When students are dressed appropriately for school, they are better able to focus on their studies and take their education seriously. Dress codes also ensure that students are dressed in a way that is appropriate for the school environment, which can help to reduce distractions and maintain a sense of order and discipline. Additionally, having a dress code can help to prepare students for future employment, where professionalism is highly valued. By enforcing a dress code, schools can instill in their students the importance of dressing professionally and the impact it can have on their future success. However, it is important to strike a balance between promoting a professional environment and limiting students’ self-expression. Schools should consider the benefits and drawbacks of dress codes to determine an appropriate approach that prioritizes respect, dignity, and learning.

Dress codes in schools can reduce distractions and peer pressure. When students wear uniforms or follow a dress code, they don’t feel the pressure to keep up with the latest fashion trends or to wear expensive clothing to fit in with their peers. This can significantly reduce the stress and anxiety that students feel on a daily basis. Dress codes can reduce the amount of time students spend getting ready in the morning, allowing them to focus more on their studies and have a better start to the day. Dress codes can prevent students from wearing revealing or provocative clothing that could be a distraction to other students or teachers. By establishing clear guidelines for what is and isn’t appropriate to wear, dress codes can create a more professional and respectful learning environment. Dress codes are an effective way to promote a positive school culture and reduce distractions and peer pressure.

Dress codes can create a sense of unity and equality among students. When everyone follows the same dress code, there are no visible class differences based on clothing. This can help to reduce the financial burden on families who may feel pressured to buy expensive clothes to keep up with their peers. Additionally, dress codes can encourage a sense of school spirit and pride, as students identify with their school community. When students feel a sense of belonging, they are more likely to engage in positive behaviors and academic pursuits. Dress codes can also promote a culture of respect and professionalism, as students learn to present themselves in a manner that is appropriate for academic and social settings. By fostering a sense of unity and equality, dress codes can contribute to a positive school culture and environment.

Cons of Dress Codes

Cons Of Dress Codes

One of the main arguments against dress codes is that they limit students’ ability to express themselves and be creative with their clothing choices. When students are required to wear uniforms or adhere to strict dress codes, they may feel like their individuality is being stifled. This can lead to a lack of enthusiasm for school and a decrease in self-confidence. While some argue that dress codes promote a sense of unity and equality, others argue that they can actually lead to conformity and a lack of diversity in expression. Students should be able to express themselves in a way that feels comfortable and authentic to them, and dress codes may prevent them from doing so. It’s important to consider the potential impact on students’ mental health and well-being when deciding whether or not to implement a dress code policy.

If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of different school policies, check out our article on pros of year-round school .

Dress codes may reinforce gender stereotypes and cultural biases by dictating what is considered appropriate clothing for male and female students. For example, girls may be required to wear skirts or dresses, while boys are required to wear pants. This can perpetuate the idea that there are only two genders and that each gender has a specific way of dressing.

Dress codes may not take into account cultural or religious clothing practices, which can result in discrimination against students who are not able to conform to the dress code. For instance, some religious beliefs require women to cover their hair or wear modest clothing. If the dress code does not allow for such clothing, it can create a hostile environment for these students.

Dress codes that focus on modesty or covering up can also reinforce harmful attitudes towards women’s bodies. It can imply that girls are responsible for the way that boys behave towards them, and that they need to cover up to avoid unwanted attention. This can contribute to a culture of victim-blaming and perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes.

It is important for schools to consider the potential biases and stereotypes that can be reinforced by dress codes and to ensure that their policies are inclusive and equitable for all students. Schools should strive to create an environment where students can express themselves while respecting the diversity of cultural and religious backgrounds.

Dress codes can often contribute to body shaming and discrimination, especially towards girls and women. Dress codes that focus on covering up specific body parts can reinforce harmful societal norms and stereotypes. For example, dress codes that prohibit exposed shoulders or short skirts can send the message that girls’ bodies are inherently distracting or sexual. This can lead to girls feeling ashamed of their bodies and can contribute to a culture of victim blaming.

Dress codes can also perpetuate discrimination based on body size, race, and gender identity. For instance, dress codes that require certain body types or hairstyles can exclude students who do not fit within those narrow standards. This can lead to feelings of isolation and low self-esteem, and can contribute to a hostile school environment.

In order to address these issues, dress codes should be designed with inclusivity and equity in mind. Schools should prioritize creating dress codes that do not shame or discriminate against any particular group of students. Instead, dress codes should foster a culture of respect, dignity, and learning for all students. This can be achieved by involving students, parents, and teachers in the creation and enforcement of dress codes, and by providing resources and support for those who may be negatively impacted by dress code policies.

Teachers’ Perspectives

Teachers' Perspectives

Enforcing dress codes is important for maintaining a safe and professional learning environment. Dress codes help to prevent distractions and promote better focus on learning. Schools have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for their students, and dress codes can help to achieve this goal. Enforcing dress codes can also help to prevent bullying and harassment based on appearance. Additionally, dress codes promote a sense of discipline and respect for authority, which can benefit students in their future careers. Teachers play a crucial role in enforcing dress codes and setting a positive example for their students. By enforcing dress codes consistently and fairly, teachers can help to create a positive and respectful learning environment that benefits all students.

Flexibility and sensitivity are crucial when it comes to implementing dress codes in schools. While dress codes can serve a purpose in promoting a safe and professional learning environment, they can also unintentionally exclude students from certain cultural or economic backgrounds. For example, requiring expensive or specific types of clothing can be a burden for families who cannot afford it. Additionally, dress codes that prohibit certain styles or cultural attire can make students feel unwelcome or ashamed of their heritage.

To address this issue, schools should consider implementing dress codes that are inclusive and mindful of diverse student backgrounds. This can involve allowing for variations in clothing styles and materials, as well as providing resources or support for families who may need assistance in obtaining appropriate clothing. It is also important for school officials to listen to and respect the concerns of students and families who may feel marginalized or excluded by dress code policies.

Ultimately, a flexible and sensitive approach to dress codes can help to promote a more inclusive and equitable learning environment, while still maintaining the benefits of a dress code policy. By prioritizing respect, dignity, and learning, schools can create a dress code policy that serves the needs of all students, regardless of their background or economic status.

Teachers play a crucial role in enforcing dress codes and setting an example for students. It is important for teachers to also consider their own dress code and how it aligns with the school’s policy. Teachers should dress professionally and appropriately for the school environment, while also being mindful of their own personal expression. The dress code for teachers should be clear and consistent, and take into account cultural and religious diversity. Teachers should also be sensitive to students’ backgrounds and avoid any clothing that may be deemed offensive or inappropriate. By modeling appropriate dress and behavior, teachers can help create a positive and inclusive school culture.

How to Take Action

To take action on dress codes, it is essential to start by understanding the school’s policy. This can be done by reviewing the school’s handbook or speaking with administrators. Once the policy is understood, it is important to start a dialogue with students and parents about their thoughts and concerns. Advocating for inclusive and equitable dress codes can also help promote unity and equality among students. Supporting organizations that provide resources and support can also be helpful in promoting a balanced and thoughtful approach to dress codes. Ultimately, prioritizing respect, dignity, and learning in the school environment should be the goal when addressing dress codes. By taking these steps, schools can create a safe and comfortable environment for all students.

To effectively navigate a school’s dress code policy, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t allowed. Take the time to review the policy carefully and note any specific guidelines or restrictions. Some dress codes may prohibit certain types of clothing, such as tank tops or shorts, while others may require students to wear a specific color or style of clothing. It’s also important to understand the consequences for violating the dress code policy, which may include disciplinary action or being sent home to change.

To help ensure compliance with the policy, consider creating a summary or cheat sheet of the key points. This can be particularly helpful for younger students or those who may have difficulty remembering all of the details. Additionally, be sure to communicate with teachers and administrators if you have any questions or concerns about the policy. They can provide additional guidance and support as needed.

Understanding the school’s dress code policy is an important step in promoting a positive and respectful learning environment. By following the guidelines and working together with teachers and administrators, we can help ensure that everyone feels comfortable and supported in their educational journey.

Starting a dialogue with students and parents can help to create a more inclusive and equitable dress code policy. It is important to listen to their perspectives and concerns, and to involve them in the decision-making process. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, town hall meetings, or other forms of communication. By engaging with students and parents, we can better understand their needs and preferences, and work together to find solutions that work for everyone. We can also use this opportunity to educate them on the rationale behind the dress code policy, and to address any misconceptions or misunderstandings they may have. Ultimately, a collaborative and transparent approach can lead to a more positive and supportive school environment for all.

Advocating for inclusive and equitable dress codes is an essential step towards creating a safe and supportive environment for all students. This means that dress codes should be sensitive to the diverse backgrounds and experiences of students and avoid reinforcing harmful stereotypes or biases.

One way to advocate for inclusive dress codes is to encourage schools to involve students, parents, and community members in the development and evaluation of dress code policies. This can help ensure that policies are fair and respectful, and that they reflect the unique needs and perspectives of the school community.

Another strategy is to support organizations that provide resources and support for schools seeking to create more inclusive dress codes. For example, organizations like Dress Code Equity are dedicated to promoting inclusive dress codes that celebrate diversity and encourage self-expression.

Advocating for inclusive and equitable dress codes is an important part of creating an environment that values diversity, promotes respect and dignity, and fosters learning and growth for all students. By working together, we can create dress codes that reflect the values and priorities of our communities and help us build a brighter future for all.

Supporting organizations that provide resources and support is a great way to ensure that students are able to express themselves while still adhering to dress code policies. There are several organizations that work to promote inclusive and equitable dress codes, such as Dress for Success and Girls Who Code . These organizations provide students with the resources they need to dress professionally and appropriately, while also promoting self-expression and creativity.

In addition to supporting these organizations, schools can also partner with local businesses and community groups to provide students with affordable and stylish clothing options that meet dress code requirements. This can help to alleviate the financial burden that dress codes can sometimes place on families, while also promoting a sense of community and unity.

By supporting organizations that provide resources and support, schools can ensure that their dress code policies are fair, inclusive, and respectful of students’ individual identities and backgrounds. This can help to create a safe and nurturing learning environment where all students feel valued and empowered to succeed.

In conclusion, it is important to recognize the benefits and drawbacks of dress codes in schools. While dress codes can promote a professional environment, reduce distractions, and foster a sense of unity and equality, they can also limit self-expression, reinforce gender stereotypes, and lead to discrimination. Teachers play a crucial role in enforcing dress codes, but they must also be flexible and sensitive to students’ backgrounds. To take action, it is important to understand the school’s dress code policy, start a dialogue with students and parents, advocate for inclusive and equitable dress codes, and support organizations that provide resources and support. Ultimately, a balanced and thoughtful approach is necessary to prioritize respect, dignity, and learning in the school environment.

It is important to recognize the benefits and drawbacks of dress codes before making a decision about whether or not to implement them in a school. While dress codes can promote a professional environment, reduce distractions and peer pressure, and foster a sense of unity and equality, they can also limit self-expression and creativity, reinforce gender stereotypes and cultural biases, and lead to body shaming and discrimination.

Teachers have varying perspectives on the importance of enforcing dress codes, with some seeing them as necessary for maintaining a positive learning environment and others advocating for flexibility and sensitivity to students’ backgrounds. It is also important to consider teachers’ own dress code and how it contributes to the overall culture of the school.

To take action on dress codes, it is important to understand the school’s dress code policy and start a dialogue with students and parents about their thoughts and concerns. Advocating for inclusive and equitable dress codes can also be helpful, as well as supporting organizations that provide resources and support for students who may be impacted by dress code policies.

A balanced and thoughtful approach is necessary when considering dress codes in schools. Prioritizing respect, dignity, and learning in the school environment should be the ultimate goal when making decisions about dress code policies.

While dress codes can have both positive and negative effects on students, it is important to approach the issue in a balanced and thoughtful way. This means acknowledging the benefits of dress codes, such as promoting a professional environment and reducing distractions, while also recognizing the potential drawbacks, such as limiting self-expression and reinforcing stereotypes.

In order to encourage a balanced approach, it is important to involve all stakeholders in the discussion, including students, parents, teachers, and administrators. By starting a dialogue and considering different perspectives, schools can create dress code policies that are inclusive and equitable for all students.

It is also important to prioritize respect, dignity, and learning in the school environment. Dress codes should not be used to shame or discriminate against students based on their appearance, gender, or cultural background. Instead, schools can promote positive values by emphasizing the importance of personal responsibility, professionalism, and mutual respect.

Ultimately, a balanced and thoughtful approach to dress codes can help create a safe and supportive learning environment for all students. By working together and being open to different ideas and perspectives, schools can develop policies that reflect their values and priorities, while also respecting the individuality and diversity of their students.

Creating a dress code policy that prioritizes respect, dignity, and learning in the school environment is essential. The dress code should be designed to ensure that students feel comfortable, safe, and respected while they are learning. It is important to consider the diverse backgrounds, cultures, and identities of students, and to avoid reinforcing stereotypes or biases. The dress code should be inclusive and equitable, and should not discriminate against any student based on their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or socio-economic background.

Enforcing the dress code policy should be done in a way that is respectful and non-punitive. Students should be informed of the dress code policy and given opportunities to ask questions or provide feedback. Teachers and staff should be trained on how to enforce the policy in a way that is sensitive and respectful of students’ backgrounds and identities.

It is also important to remember that a dress code should not be the sole focus of a school’s efforts to create a safe and respectful learning environment. Schools should prioritize education and awareness around issues such as bullying, harassment, and discrimination in order to create a culture of respect and inclusivity. By prioritizing respect, dignity, and learning in the school environment, schools can create a positive and supportive environment for all students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dress codes promote a professional environment, reduce distractions and peer pressure, and foster a sense of unity and equality.

Dress codes limit self-expression and creativity, may reinforce gender stereotypes and cultural biases, and may lead to body shaming and discrimination.

Schools have dress codes to balance the need to provide a safe educational environment with freedom of expression to students. Dress codes can promote a sense of unity and equality, reduce distractions and peer pressure, and enhance punctuality and focus on study.

Dress codes can enhance students’ academic performance by reducing distractions and peer pressure and promoting a professional environment. However, dress codes may also limit students’ self-expression and creativity, which can negatively impact their academic performance.

Yes, dress codes may reinforce gender stereotypes by dictating what is appropriate attire for male and female students. This can perpetuate harmful gender norms and limit students’ self-expression and identity development.

Teachers can enforce dress codes while being sensitive to students’ backgrounds by considering cultural and religious differences and allowing for flexibility in dress code requirements. Teachers should also communicate dress code policies clearly and respectfully to students and parents.

Students and parents can start a dialogue with school administrators and advocate for more inclusive and equitable dress codes. They can also support organizations that provide resources and support for students and families affected by dress codes.

Yes, dress codes can lead to discrimination and body shaming by enforcing narrow and unrealistic standards of beauty and appropriateness. This can have negative impacts on students’ self-esteem and mental health.

There are several organizations that provide resources and support for schools to develop inclusive and equitable dress codes, such as the National Women’s Law Center and the Dress Code Project.

The best approach to dress codes in schools is a balanced and thoughtful one that prioritizes respect, dignity, and learning in the school environment. Schools should consider the benefits and drawbacks of dress codes, communicate policies clearly and respectfully, and allow for flexibility and sensitivity to students’ backgrounds.

  • Pro and Con: Dress Codes

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

most recent

primary school work experience dress code

Travel & Entertainment Discounts

44 stores with teacher discounts in 2023.

primary school work experience dress code

Career & Job Opportunities

Best jobs for teachers who quit teaching.

primary school work experience dress code

Teaching Resources & Tools

Puzzling gift box – perfect gift for students’ brain exercise.

primary school work experience dress code

Financial Services for Teachers

H&r block discounts for teachers: save on tax preparation.

primary school work experience dress code

Electronics & Tech Discounts

Best buy coupons for teachers.

primary school work experience dress code

Sign Up for the Best Buy Student Discount and Save on Electronics

© Teach State Savers - 2023

Penn Hills School Board passes dress code policy for members

Haley Daugherty

Penn Hills School Board members have been called to attend meetings in their best dress going forward.

Members adopted a new code of conduct that includes a dress code requiring board members to wear “professional business attire.”

“We had (a dress code) when I first got on the board in 1998,” said board President Erin Vecchio. “We have board members coming in now in spandex pants and dirty clothes. They look like they’re coming in from off the street.”

For one board member, that’s true.

Devon Goetze, who has a doctorate in business, works as a director of housing services at the local nonprofit Auberle. Her job involves nontraditional hours either outside or sitting on the floors of homeless shelters, moving furniture into people’s homes, handing out supplies at homeless encampments, speaking with people in the streets and traveling to different communities to help those in need. This causes her to wear clothes that allow her the dexterity to do this work, such as T-shirts, sweatpants, jeans and sweatshirts.

“(The policy) feels very targeted,” Goetze said. “I do dress casual, but I have to. I can’t do my work in a business suit.”

School board meetings take place at 6 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month. Goetze said most people on the board are retired and those who aren’t either work in offices or from home. She said she usually goes directly from work to the meetings and then back to work once the meeting ends.

Vecchio said the dress code was created with multiple board members in mind and was suggested during a state recovery plan meeting that all board members attended.

“We were told by the state in the recovery plan that we need a dress code,” Vecchio said. “We’re supposed to be representing the board and be setting an example for our kids.”

The policy states that dirty tennis shoes, flip flops, jeans, sweatpants and workout gear no longer are permitted. The policy states that suits, dress pants, skirts, blouses and dress shirts are acceptable. The policy passed in a 6-2 vote with board members Heather Broman and Goetze voting no.

“I had a job when I first started on the board,” Vecchio said. “I worked at the turnpike and wore a uniform. I changed clothes before the meeting so I don’t accept work as an excuse.”

Vecchio added there are some exceptions to the policy, including shoes such as Crocs and “dress shorts.”

“We’re adults. We’re supposed to dress like adults,” Vecchio said. “We’re not supposed to come to meetings in dirty clothes.”

Goetze said she first heard talk of the dress code right after a committee of the whole meeting on Valentine’s Day, when Vecchio emailed the members that she was going to introduce one. Goetze said Vecchio had commented several times before and after the meeting about Goetze’s outfit, a heart sweatshirt for the holiday and a pair of workout pants. Goetze said she found out March 22 the policy would be voted on when she was looking in the attachments of the agenda.

“It was almost hidden in a document,” Goetze said.

The dress code was detailed in an attached document paired with the last voting section of the agenda. The policy states that if a member of the board violates the dress code, they will be asked to leave the meeting to change clothes and be censured. Vecchio said censuring a member will include “public embarrassment.”

“We’re trying to embarrass the person into wearing the proper clothing,” Vecchio said.

Vecchio said that after multiple censures, other board members will write a letter to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association asking them to remove the offending member from office.

However, Mackenzie Christiana, senior manager of communications at the Pennsylvania School Boards Association noted in an email that the association is “not a regulatory body or state agency, and do not have authority to remove a member of a school board.”

According to Christiana, the association’s policy services helps board members keep up with the requirements for education in Pennsylvania by tracking state and federal laws, regulations and court decisions related to a school board’s governance responsibilities.

The association drafts policy guides and issues them to individual school boards. From there, school boards are asked to include their internal experts and consult with their school solicitor in any review and updating of board policies.

“If a PSBA policy guide does not address a particular topic, a school entity, based on their local needs and operations, will typically draft a policy with the assistance of their solicitor,” Christiana said in the email. “The policies are subsequently submitted to the local school board for official adoption or revision. For this reason, PSBA does not comment on locally adopted board policies.”

Goetze said she would try to follow the dress code, but wearing business attire to her job would not be safe for her and it would make her less approachable — both factors that success in her daily work depends on.

“I hope I get censured every single month because that means there’s more people off the streets that night,” Goetze said.

Goetze said she doesn’t see her attire as disrespectful and it doesn’t stop her from doing her job. She said she is a member of five other boards throughout multiple communities, and this is the first time that an issue with her clothing has been brought up.

“This is a classist policy,” Goetze said.

“People who wear uniforms to work — laborers, postal workers, even mechanics or fast-food workers — would be excluded from the board if they couldn’t change clothing.”

District Solicitor Bruce Dice did not respond to multiple voicemails asking for comment.

Haley Daugherty is a TribLive reporter covering local politics, feature stories and Allegheny County news. A native of Pittsburgh, she lived in Alabama for six years. She joined the Trib in 2022 after graduating from Chatham University. She can be reached at [email protected] .

Remove the ads from your TribLIVE reading experience but still support the journalists who create the content with TribLIVE Ad-Free.

Get Ad-Free >

TribLIVE's Daily and Weekly email newsletters deliver the news you want and information you need, right to your inbox.

News Spotlight

  • Crafting Champions: How Martial Arts Builds Confidence in Children Norwin Ninjas Partner News
  • 5 Reasons Why Professional Pressure Washing Is a Game-Changer for Your Property's Appeal Keystone Pressure Washing & Roof Cleaning, LLC Partner News
  • What is the Importance of In-House Flooring Installation Teams? Family Floors LLC Partner News
  • South Hills real estate transactions for the week of Sept. 26, 2021 TribLive
  • Bub Carrington will leave Pitt, declare for the NBA Draft TribLive
  • Lou Weiss: Put me in, Queen, I’m ready to play TribLive
  • How to Enhance Your Home’s Exterior with Quality Siding Options Bella Construction & Development Inc Partner News
  • Police investigate Beltzhoover shooting TribLive
  • Murrysville man receives jail sentence for assaulting woman in 2022 TribLive
  • How Do I Take Care of My Commercial Asphalt Parking Lot? Brant's Asphalt Partner News

Kennywood unveils additions for opening day, including details of new Potato Smash ride

IMAGES

  1. Dress Code

    primary school work experience dress code

  2. Dress Codes In School

    primary school work experience dress code

  3. The Importance of a Dress Code in Schools

    primary school work experience dress code

  4. Dress Code Policy

    primary school work experience dress code

  5. Board approves new dress code for 2023-24 school year, developed by

    primary school work experience dress code

  6. Dress Code Examples

    primary school work experience dress code

VIDEO

  1. What to wear on your first day of school

  2. How you prepare your school dress #school #students #ready #dress #ytshorts #trending #relatable

  3. WORK EXPERIENCE NEEDED FOR MEDICAL SCHOOL APPLICATIONS

  4. How students and teachers see the school dress code 🤔

COMMENTS

  1. What to wear for volunteering/work experience in a PRIMARY SCHOOL

    17. I've had work experience in a few primary schools and in all of them it was a smart casual dress code so meant no jeans (in one you could wear them but they had to be smart and either dark blue or black) or trainers. Most work places have a similar dress code. When I went I'd wear things like smart black or grey trousers, jumper/blouse and ...

  2. What To Wear For Work Experience

    3. Dress to impress. When it comes to deciding what to wear for work experience, remember that most employers expect you to dress smartly, even if the normal dress code at work is casual. Remember, you're dressing to impress them! The same goes for work experience outfits. Be smart on your first day - you can always dress down if your boss says ...

  3. The Teacher Dress Code: A Guide for all Seasons

    For primary school, a dark pair of jeans is acceptable. To bring a bit of colour to your outfit, choose a block-coloured jumper, like mustard or maroon. As a high school teacher, you can still keep your outfit casual. Choose a cord jumper, paired with jeans or chinos and a comfy set of ankle boots. For a more professional environment, ditch the ...

  4. Dress Code for School Staff

    Jumpers, jackets, dresses, business suits, ties. Examples of workwear that you might not fit your dress code at work include: Mini-skirts. Jeans. Leisure shorts unless for PE or sports. Tracksuits unless for PE or sports. Offensive badges, emblems or logos on clothes. Indoor wearing of baseball caps. See-through clothing.

  5. PDF Work Experience Dress Code

    Dress Code for Work. It's a good chance that a cool outfit you might wear to a party or whilst hanging out with friends is not appropriate for work experience. For example, strappy tops aren't considered smart wear. Avoid denim and flip flops, as they are too casual. Flip flops should also be avoided for health and safety, but secure sandals ...

  6. What Should You Wear To Work Experience?

    For most settings, 'smart' and office wear is the safest play. These include button up shirts, blouses, trousers, pencil skirts, and appropriate shoes are what you can expect to be wearing. 'Smart casual' clothes, like smart dresses and polo shirts, for example, are also acceptable. Make sure you wear something you will be comfortable ...

  7. Primary School Teachers

    They should be comfortable to wear. They should be appropriate - so avoid fashion statements and items of clothing that you may wear to nights out ! They should be easily washed or cleaned as they will get dirty very quickly with everything you have to do. Just be glad that chalk boards are not in classes any more - all your clothing became ...

  8. Are Dress Codes for Educators Simply Out of Fashion?

    In 2008, a teachers' union in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, expressed concerns to the school board over inequitable variances in dress code across the district: One school's principal allowed educators to wear capri pants and blue jeans, another prohibited the same items, while yet another required an educator's shoes to match their outfit.

  9. Dress code

    A school dress code policy has to be a working (evolving) document, and so we advise you should review it every other year. Once a school dress code policy has been agreed, schools may wish to demonstrate examples of appropriate clothing that meet the requirements of the school's uniform policy.

  10. Lesson 9: Appropriate Attire

    Objective from IEP connected to lesson: Purpose of lesson: Determine appropriate attire for possible work experiences. Materials needed: Internet search engine, variety of fabric (cotton, wool, linen, polyester, etc.), iron, ironing board. If possible, taking a group of students on a field trip to a superstore such as Wal-Mart or Target is ideal.

  11. Students Push Schools to Overhaul Dress Codes: Their Success Stories

    Ninety-three percent of students have dress codes in their districts, according to a Government Accountability Office report last year. But that report, which studied school dress codes from 236 ...

  12. Doing my work experience placement at a primary school as ...

    Doing my work experience placement at a primary school as 'in-class support.' ... So, as the title suggests, I'm completing my work experience placement at a local primary school. According to my insurance and application form, which was returned to me a few days ago, my role will be 'in-class support' and the dress code is simply ...

  13. PDF John Perry Primary School Work Experience Placement Policy

    a member of staff and ensuring the code of conduct is adhered to at all times All students wishing to carry out their work experience within John Perry Primary School will be given equal consideration in line with our Single Equality Scheme and the equal opportunities ethos of the school. Financial Implications Students on work experience do so

  14. Staff dress codes: guidance and examples

    Your dress code should allow for different circumstances. This includes taking health and safety into consideration, for example: You should also allow for weather conditions. For example, if you expect male teachers to wear ties or jackets, you can specify that this does not mean during very hot days. Your dress code must also be inclusive.

  15. Orchard Community Primary School

    discrimination. All work experience volunteers are required to make a commitment to this policy and treat everyone with respect at all times. 11. Code of conduct for those on work experience All those completing work experience are expected to maintain high standards of behaviour and conduct while involved in activities at the school.

  16. Districts Need Guidance on Designing Dress Codes That Are Fair to All

    An Alameda High School student wears ripped jeans on the school's campus in Alameda, Calif.. The school system recently relaxed its dress codes to lessen their impact on some students.

  17. What should you wear to a Primary School Interview?

    Guys you must wear a tie and formal shirt - Polo shirts are not appropriate and just to be on the safe side wear a jacket - it can be a sports jacket, but some interview panels expect a jacket and will notice if you don't …so it's not worth the risk! Shoe wise - yes these will get noticed - for ladies not too high on the heels as ...

  18. School Dress Codes Aren't Fair to Everyone, Federal Study Finds

    GAO researchers analyzed dress codes from 236 public school districts (there are more than 13,000 districts) and conducted interviews in three of them from August 2021 to October 2022. Alyssa ...

  19. Teacher dress code

    Ben Connor is a primary deputy headteacher at a school in Bury, Greater Manchester. He has been teaching for 13 years in various schools and currently leads on curriculum and teaching and learning. Follow Ben on Twitter @bbcTeaching. SHARE THIS resource. Ben Connor on dress codes for teachers, and why wearing trainers to work isn't a hill ...

  20. PDF Cooee Primary School Dress Code and Uniform Policy

    The purpose of a School Student Dress Code and Uniform Policy (the Policy) is to promote social equity in terms of clothing, assisting school staff in easily identifying students and enhancing the sense of pride within a school. The Policy is in accordance with Secretary's Instruction No 6 for State School Student Dress Code and developed in ...

  21. Are dress codes fair? How one middle school transformed its ...

    The decision to reevaluate the dress code arose from the realization that the existing policies were no longer aligned with the needs of the students at Alice Deal, a public middle school in Washington, D.C. Prior to the change, students were pulled out of class if their outfits violated the school dress code. "They had their work.

  22. Pros and Cons of Dress Code: What Teachers Need to Know

    By establishing clear guidelines for what is and isn't appropriate to wear, dress codes can create a more professional and respectful learning environment. Dress codes are an effective way to promote a positive school culture and reduce distractions and peer pressure. 3. Fosters a sense of unity and equality.

  23. Primary School Dress Code : r/TeachingUK

    Currently shirt and tie for any formal events like parent's evenings. Shirt (jumper), chinos and boots when it's cold Shorts, casual shirt and trainers when it's hot. Really depends on where you work though as some heads haven't realised that a dress code can be adjusted to fit with the 21st century. 5.

  24. Penn Hills School Board passes dress code policy for members

    The policy states that suits, dress pants, skirts, blouses and dress shirts are acceptable. The policy passed in a 6-2 vote with board members Heather Broman and Goetze voting no. "I had a job ...