08 September 2009

School ties changing to clip-ons

According to a BBC report today, schools in Britain are having their students switch from knotted ties to clip-ons.
The Schoolwear Association says 10 schools a week in the UK are switching, because of fears of ties getting caught in equipment or strangling pupils...

The emergence of clip-on ties is part of a growing sensitivity towards health and safety, says the association, along with modifications such as high-visibility trimming on scarves.

Clip-on ties take away the risk of pupils having accidents with their knotted ties.

Schools have raised concerns about ties catching fire in science lessons, getting trapped in technology equipment or ties getting caught when pupils were running.

Clip-on ties also allow schools to create a more standardised appearance, says the association, stopping pupils from being more creative in how they wear their ties.

Last year the Daily Mail covered the same topic, but the emphasis was more on uniformity than on health issues (photo above):

Tied as short as possible, with a defiantly large knot, most pupils seem to wear their tie as a badge of rebellion rather than respectability.

But the 'chavvy' knot, popularised by comedienne Catherine Tate's unruly schoolgirl character Lauren Cooper, has been banned at one school, which has made clip-on ties compulsory instead.

Christopher Stone, head teacher of Arthur Terry school in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, has claimed that behaviour and attendance has improved since the ban.

'It's a mess when you walk around town and you see children with their buttons undone and their ties all over the place,' Mr Stone, 50, said... 'The clip-on versions will help to take away that negative interaction between the teacher and the pupil.'
TYWKIWDBI's take - this is 100% about enforcing uniformity and suppressing individual expression. There may be occasional health and safety issues among tens of thousands of tie wearers, but that's just a public spin by the institutions.

Perhaps the change is necessary; perhaps it's like the need to ban gang symbols. In any case, this seems an appropriate time to embed the Pink Floyd classic...

To be honest, I'm a little put off by the depiction of chaos and anarchy, but the theme is still a vibrant and appealing one.

The resonating verse "We don't need no education" seems to be self-mocking, but it can also be viewed as saying "we don't need (the lack of) education" in the sense that what they are learning in school is not useful. Excellent discussion of the lyrics here.
While some apply the song's biting lyrics to specific kinds of schooling, others use it as a rallying cry against any government mandated form of education. Largely as a result of this latter utilization, many countries around the world have banned the song from being played on their radio stations, a few even going so far as to place a national ban on both the album and Pink Floyd. However, counter to these extremist views of total educational anarchy, the song was written as an attack against a specific type of learning...

Ironically, despite being a song about individuality, the lyrics are full of apparent conformity. Gone is any first person singular pronoun... Roger Waters wanted to show how conformity is ever-present, even when we're little, and even when we are rebelling...
Update: Originally posted in May, reblogged now because the BBC has a new report on this event, with photographs to show "When school ties go bad" -

- which also has an explanation of the phenomenon known as "peanutting" and how to counteract it. The comment thread at the article is also interesting.


  1. I'm amazed how often you have these bizarre reactions to things. Are you from the UK or the US or elsewhere?

    There is a lot to be said in favor of school uniforms and having everyone on the same level, not being judged by their clothes. I really think the supposed suppression of individual style and expression is a ridiculous argument.

  2. I'm from the U.S. I went to a school that required a coat and tie. In I think it was 1960 they liberalized the policy to permit sweaters.

    If you reread the post, I don't think you'll find me berating the wearing of uniforms. I was poking fun at the pompous argument that the switch to clip-ons was being done for "health and safety" reasons.

    I think it was done to "have everyone on the same level, not being judged by their clothes" - don't you?

  3. Hadaway, in 14 years of wearing school uniform neither I nor anyone I knew had that kind of accident. It's all about trying to find ways to make pupils follow uniform rules ("ties must touch waistbands"). As for the bit that says "...the 'chavvy' knot, popularised by comedienne Catherine Tate..." Hardly. We wore ties like that when I was at school, long before anyone ever heard of her.

    So do they expect you to shell out for different lengths ties as they grow up? School uniforms are a rip off as it is. Or is it one length for all? Because in that case you'll find Year 7s with ties between their knees and 6th formers' ties still won't be long enough.

    Wearing school uniform is part of growing up and the transition from timid kid following the rules to normal teenager bending them is a rite of passage.

    What next? Shirts with a playsuit bottom to make sure you tuck them in rather than under?

    1. I totally agree with you. I have always been living in a country with no uniforms in education. And apart from that, I wish we had uniforms with ties etc. I find this rule ridiculous too.
      I do wear a school tie, but not by regulations but by my own choice. And no matter, I ALWAYS tie them the way UK students do at school, and it's quite cool!
      Also I agree on the clip-on tie part, I was surfing on a few uniform webshops and tried to figure out the clip on length. They are all the same, so right, those kids from year 7 to 6th form will look quite weird, maybe at year 10 will those fit them.

  4. Josh - you are in FAVOR of having everyone on the same level, but AGAINST suppression of individual style?

  5. I'm in favour of school uniform, and the enforcement thereof. Ties are a stupid and pointless device, serving no sensible purpose, therefore a decision to switch to clip on ties is just adding a further layer of absurdity. I think one-piece coveralls would be better.
    Seriously. And the school would keep some really grungy smelly ones, in a filthy old locker. Then when young miss individual came in with her subtly altered, shape-fitting suit, she would be shown into a changing room and handed a stinky suit to wear the rest of the day.
    In my school, you NEVER forgot your sports kit. Because Mr Warham would hand you a selection of stinking items from the lost property bin in his office, and you WOULD wear them.
    Oh well, I'm such a curmudgeon... I'd bring back mean and draconian punishments, do away with all aspects of personal choice, dammit you're not there to have fun, you're there to LEARN.

    The lyric "we don't need no education" proves the opposite.

    However, in my brave new world, I would make school optional, there are dumps that could be mined, to reclaim plastics, metals, glass, there is litter to pick, graffiti to erase, so, you could choose not to go to school, you could join the work-batallion instead.
    Oh. Work Batallion would use one-piece coveralls too, just in a different colour.

  6. I don't understand why they wear ties at all. You can certainly have uniforms without ties.

  7. Interesting take, expexially since the mosre pragmatic teachers likely disagree. A good friend of my is a schoolteacher in Leeds. She tells me that uniforms in general and ties in particular, have an important role: it gives kids something harmless to rebel against. A huge tie knot is something they can do to feel like they're individualistic and creative - but which won't disrupt the class. So taking away the traditional tie is not likely to help teachers....

    By the way, to further muddy the waters, UK police also wear clip-on ties - to prevent an officer from being strangled!

  8. The UK has become a horrible nanny state IMO.
    But going to school in America, my best girlfriend and I wished for school uniforms. We were both quite pretty but could never ever be as popular as the girls with the big wardrobe budgets.It was torture for us.

  9. I think that uniforms are a good idea since they make everyone equel in the opinion of clothes, and you don't have to decide what you are going to wear every single day. I do think though, that uniforms should be comfortable and simple. Not so over the top that ties, school socks and blazers are included. This makes highschool teenagers want to rebel, a-duh!!! If they found the uniform comfortable and ok, and if it was just simple so people couln't even wear it sloppy, it would look better than one of the 'fancy dress" schools


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