Pupil participation in secondary school uniform policies in Scotland

Rachel Shanks* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


What children and young people wear at school directly affects them, and thus, according to Article 12 on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, they should be able to express their views and have their views considered. In this chapter, I investigate whether school uniform policies in Scottish secondary schools allow pupils to not only have a voice but also to influence policy. Pupil participation in school decision-making in Scotland has largely focused on mimicking external political processes with pupil councils and class representatives. The focus of this chapter is an analysis of the school uniform policies, handbooks, and websites of all publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland (n=357). While there is a language of involvement and consultation with pupils, there is little evidence of embedded participation in decision-making around uniform and appearance policies. The concluding part of the chapter considers how involving young people in school uniform decision-making could help to foster democratic participation to continue outside and after school. However, it is necessary to be aware of the possibility that the incorporation of pupil participation may lead to it becoming a technology of governance rather than a mechanism to practise democratic citizenship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSchool Uniforms
Subtitle of host publicationNew Materialist Perspectives
EditorsRachel Shanks, Julie Ovington, Beth Cross, Ainsley Carnarvon
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-32939-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-32938-8
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2023

Publication series

NameThe Cultural and Social Foundations of Education

Bibliographical note

I wish to thank the students who were involved in the original sourcing and coding of the school uniform policies, namely Lucas Adrian Brauns, Jasper Friedrich, Agata Kostrzewa, Marton Kottmayer, Annabelle Eveline Olsson, Kirsten Phelps, Daniel Phillips, Vilma Pullinen, Atyrah Hanim Razali, Cameron Roy and Maria Steiner Simonsen.


  • consultation
  • participation
  • decision-making
  • Children's rights


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