This is the last Newsletter for this term and I must say this term has rushed by, seemingly in the blink of an eye. Schools are such busy places, it is important to step back and take stock every now and again.
Staff have been very much on the go, not just in delivering lessons but also in preparation for an upcoming NESA (previously Board of Studies) inspection. It is encouraging, as the required evidence of compliance is being collated, to see that our school practice and the teaching and learning is of a high quality and our teachers’ desire to not only meet, but exceed, the required standards.
Year 12 Exams
The classrooms have been a hive of activity throughout the school, with our Year 12 students reaching a specific milestone in their final year – their half yearly examinations. This will be a valuable time for teachers and students to see how they are progressing in their studies. It is also an important time for learning, as examinations become more like their final HSC exams and provide them with feedback as to where to direct their efforts in each of their subjects for the remaining two terms. Our prayers are with our senior students over this time.
The musical is well and truly gaining momentum with weekly rehearsals becoming part of the rhythm of the school, plus two Saturday rehearsals already behind us. Last Saturday it was particularly encouraging to work with a number of the dads and big brothers cleaning out the sets storage shed in readiness for the delivery of the Mary Poppins set. I believe I recognised a few props that dated back to the 1996 performance of Wizard of Oz. With the big clean out done, this area of the school becomes much more functional. Thank you to all those helpers who lent a hand.
The K-2 dance was great fun with our students enjoying showing off their superhero outfits. I took the opportunity to meet with parents at the CCS meeting at the same time. We reflected on our own school experiences as students, plus what we hope for our own children’s school years. Discussion focused particularly on the question, ‘What would be your child’s ideal school experience?’ This generated a lot of conversation in the small groups. The recorded comments will be referred to as we develop our school improvement plan this year.
Why Have a School Uniform?
The start of next term marks the change to winter uniform. This year is the first year of the completed whole school change to the new uniform clothing (we are still transitioning to uniform school bags). Discussion in schools invariably includes commentary about uniform, often stemming from the correction of a student either wearing incorrect uniform, or wearing uniform incorrectly. There are numerous pros and cons for school uniforms but I have listed a number of reasons why wearing a uniform well for school is worthwhile:
When all students are dressed alike, competition between students over clothing choices and the teasing of those who are dressed in different ways can be eliminated. There are many ways that people make comparisons between themselves and others. This may be regarding types of mobile phone, home, car or holiday destination. Comparisons such as these have their source in envy and can be an automatic response. A school uniform takes one of these possible comparisons out of play. When all William Carey students are dressed in a common uniform, it removes one aspect of comparison from their lives.
Clothing often sets the tone for the activity. When I go on holidays I enjoy the comfort of a t-shirt, shorts and thongs. The change in clothing is a change in gears to more a relaxed mode. When it is back to work, I will put on a suit and tie as a signal to myself and others that my focus is now on work. Another change in gear. Sport uniforms have the same effect on people’s focus and purpose – working as a team to excel in sporting competition. A bulletin published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals stated, “When all students are wearing the same outfit, they are less concerned about how they look and how they fit in with their peers; thus, they can concentrate on their schoolwork.” A 2010 University of Houston study found that elementary school girls’ language test scores increased by about three percentile points after uniforms were introduced.
School uniforms work the same way to send a non-verbal signal to students that school time has a learning focus. Putting the school uniform on is a change in gears for students as well.
A society that emphasises individuality can also produce a negative by-product of isolation. More than generating a sense of pride, uniforms can have the effect of generating a sense of belonging to a community. It is important that students learn that they belong to a community, developing thinking and actions that both connect them and enable them to support others in that larger body.
School uniforms make it just that bit easier to get to school on time! The amount of angst and time required for getting ready for school is reduced by having a uniform. The cost of clothing is also reduced by using uniforms. While the financial outlay for a good quality, long lasting uniform seems additional, it actually costs less than to purchase the same non-uniform clothing requirements for a year or longer.
Finally, we live in a society in which the media encourages people to pay great attention to their appearance and invest a large amount of time, money and effort to project an ‘acceptable’ external appearance. This has significant negative impacts on the way that many young people think about themselves. It seems counter-intuitive, but taking care in how a uniform is worn actually provides our students with a break from the pressure of maintaining their appearance under the scrutiny of their peers. Wearing a uniform well provides the opportunity to demonstrate their character, intellect and heart.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
In every school that I know, some students push the boundaries of acceptable uniform standards, whether it is about the top button being done up, the length of the skirt, the socks being worn, the amount of make-up, the shirt tucked in, the colour and style of hair or the type of shoes. There are innumerable little ways that students will test the boundaries.
Each school needs to work out where, when, with whom and how to hold the line on different matters. We appreciate the support of our parents in holding to our expectations regarding uniforms.
Finally, as we take a break between terms, I would like to wish all members of the school community safety and an opportunity to rest and reflect on God’s great rescue plan that we remember at Easter.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
 Peter Caruso, “Individuality vs. Conformity: The Issue behind School Uniforms,” NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) Bulletin, Sep. 1996
 Elisabetta Gentile and Scott A. Imberman, “Dressed for Success? The Effect of School Uniforms on Student Achievement and Behavior,” utdallas.edu, Jan. 15, 2010