French School Uniform:  Regulations


Figure 1.--  

French children for the most part did not wear school uniforms. There were some Government regulations which varied over time. Most schools have parents councils. Schools at first had little parent input. School was for many years considered primarily a matter for the professionals, school administrators and teachers. Parents followed the traditional rules . This has changed somewhat in modern France. Most of these councils have been organized after World War II. Today all French schools have a parent council. The parents school councils can recommend uniforms, but not make them compulsory. We do not know how common it was for these councils to recommend a uniform. Nor do we know much about the uniform styles adopted. We suspect it was often a recommendation about smocks. Hopefully our French readers will know more about this. While not common ar public schools, uniforms at private schools or Instituts were more common. In the Catholic and private schools, parent councils were much more common. The members were the nuns or priests themself with a few selected parents. These councils made the school rules concerning economic matters, uniforms, cathechism , and other obligations, but not the academic program.

Government Regulations

French children for the most part did not wear school uniforms. There were some Government regulations which varied over time. Our understanding is that the new French Republic created as a result of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) isues comprehensive new educational reforms. One of these reforms was to require or incourage the use of smocks. Educators believed that smocks were very democractic because they mean that both poor and rich children would have a common appearance. We do not yet have details on the Government regulations. Mother found smocks to be practical and thus the smock became a common school garment in France. While uniforms were not required, children could not wear whatever they wanted. There were some rules about how children should look.The Educational Ministery issued regulations on school dress. They had to be applied by the Regional Inspection Academic. A French reader tells us that girls were required to wear dresses to school juntil the 1960s. He reports that as a result of a very cold winter (during World War II) the " Inspecteur de l'Académie " issued an exception and girls were allowed to wear long pants (only in dark colors) for some time. Primary schools could require children to wear smocks acording to " une Circulaire ". It is a recommendation issued from the Regional Academy. I don't think schools required short pants, but many mothers chose them. As a result until after World war II, most French boys until about 13 years of age wore short pants all year fround. At lot of boys began wearing long pants with their Communion and would wear them for church on Sunday and other special occassions. The school program was the same throughout France and mandated by the Academy. There was a " cahier du jour " on which each day there was: Instruction Civique, Dictée, Grammaire, Calcul et Mathématique. On others " cahiers " there was Geographie, Histoire, Sciences, Lecture, and Poésie. A short home work assignment was also compulsory. It usually consisted mainly of a piece to memorize. A French reader writes, "It must be said that French grammar is quite dificult." The French school program providef little time for sport. At the secondary level the program was more complicated. Before World war II only about 20 percent of the children went on to sevondary schools.

School Councils

Most schools have parents councils. Schools at first had little parent input. School was for many years considered primarily a matter for the professionals, school administrators and teachers. Parents followed the traditional rules . This has changed somewhat in modern France. Most of these councils have been organized after World War II. Today all French schools have a parent council. The parents school councils can recommend uniforms, but not make them compulsory. We do not know how common it was for these councils to recommend a uniform. Nor do we know much about the uniform styles adopted. We suspect it was often a recommendation about smocks. Hopefully our French readers will know more about this. In the Catholic and private schools, parent councils were much more common. The members were the nuns or priests themself with a few selected parents. These councils made the school rules concerning economic matters, uniforms, cathechism , and other obligations, but not the academic program.

Individual Schools

While there were no national school uniforms, there were some schools which had unigorms. These were mostly private schools. While not common at public schools, uniforms at private schools or Instituts were more common. Some schools did require smocks. This was mostly done at the individual school level.






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Created: 5:36 AM 11/4/2005
Last updated: 5:36 AM 11/4/2005