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Pupil Participation in Secondary School Uniform Policies in Scotland

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Part of the The Cultural and Social Foundations of Education book series (CSFE)


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 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.


  • Consultation
  • Participation
  • Decision-making
  • Children’s rights

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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.

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Correspondence to Rachel Shanks .

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© 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

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Shanks, R. (2023). Pupil Participation in Secondary School Uniform Policies in Scotland. In: Shanks, R., Ovington, J., Cross, B., Carnarvon, A. (eds) School Uniforms. The Cultural and Social Foundations of Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-32938-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-32939-5

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