Gavin Mortimer Gavin Mortimer

Why Macron wants to put French schoolkids back in uniform

Credit: Getty Images

The details of King Charles’ state visit to France later this month were announced on Wednesday. His Majesty’s deputy private secretary, Chris Fitzgerald said that the occasion state will celebrate the countries’ ‘shared histories, culture and values’.

One thing France and Britain haven’t shared for many years is the same view on school uniform. We wear it, they don’t, although they might be about to change.  

In an interview on Monday, Emmanuel Macron agreed that school uniform may be the best way to avoid any future controversies about what children wear to schools in France. 

He was referring to the furore that erupted last week when his new Minister of Education, Gabriel Attal, declared a ban on the wearing of the abaya. This long baggy Islamic outfit became in vogue at the start of this year, but, like headscarves, kippahs and crucifixes, it has been added to the list of proscribed items in the Republic’s schools.  

Attal also announced that as of this autumn school uniforms will be trialled in a number of schools, a decision obviously endorsed by his president. Macron believes that the benefit of a school uniform is the avoidance of ‘clothing that refers you to a religion, because that excludes you and separates you’.  

The president also cited his wish to ease the social pressure on children who cannot afford to come to school wearing the latest street fashions.   

The possibility that school uniform might become compulsory has pleased the right – although Eric Ciotti, the leader of the Republicans, was quick to remind people he had already taken the initiative in this matter. In a newspaper column last Sunday, Ciotti said that in the southern department of the Alpes-Maritimes, where his Nice constituency is situated, the wearing of uniforms will be trialled this school year.  

Ciotti has been one of the leading figures in the long-running campaign to reintroduce school uniform into French education.

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