Stories about school dress code disputes appear frequently in the media. Rather than taking sides in these conflicts this paper explores what they collectively might be able to tell us about contemporary childhood. The main argument is that while school dress codes, on one level, are not an urgent issue, they nevertheless provide a rich site for understanding shifting cultural and political concerns and fault-lines about religion, sexuality, gender, class and the roles of the state, head teachers, parents and, of course, children. In examining what a ‘children’s rights’ perspective can offer the paper includes a critical reading of two cases where children successfully challenged dress codes and the paper concludes by sketching out possible research methods for developing a conversation between political discourses and personal experiences.
Professor Daniel Monk Birkbeck, University of London
Centre for Children’s Rights, School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work.