Mandatory uniforms at school: a bill tabled in the Senate

The debate on compulsory school uniform, relaunched at the end of 2022 in the National Assembly, is coming to the Senate. Senator LR from Paris Céline Boulay-Espéronnier has just filed a bill aimed at “making the wearing of school uniform compulsory”. The text, co-signed by Bruno Retailleau, president of the LR senators, takes up one of the proposals of the 2015 Senate commission of inquiry into the “loss of Republican landmarks at school”.

“A subject of conviction”

For the author of the bill, “it is a subject of conviction”. Its text proposes to make “uniform dress” compulsory in primary schools, colleges and high schools, leaving establishments to choose the characteristics of the latter. The bill also provides for the payment by the State of an allowance to families with few resources in order to cover the cost of acquiring uniforms. Currently, if they are not compulsory in schools, the latter can decide to do so by modifying their rules of procedure.

“This text launches a national impetus which would be declined locally. It is important to leave room for maneuver to the establishments, because these are not the same issues in a high school in the north of France or in a high school in Marseille, ”explains Céline Boulay-Espéronnier.

To the critics of the proposal, the senator replies: “In the national context, this idea is not new, we have been talking about it for years. This establishes its legitimacy”. “I consulted a lot and I will continue until the discussion of the bill”, she explains. According to his statement of reasonswearing school uniform, a term that is “more modern, less reductive” than that of uniform, would reinforce the feeling of belonging to the establishment, minimize the risk of extortion, and would also constitute a “ discipline factor.

“This dress story is obviously not a panacea for solving all the problems of National Education, it is one aspect of the problem”, nuances the author of the bill. “We would need a major law on schools, to cover subjects such as the recruitment of teachers, the overcrowding of pupils, the dilapidation of premises, basic learning”.

“Faced with attacks on secularism, school heads have no framework”

Another of the objectives of this text is “to definitively get rid of the question of wearing conspicuous signs of religious affiliation” at school. Since the start of the 2022 school year, the about attacks on secularism at school through the wearing of religious clothing is the subject of much debate. Pap Ndiaye, the Minister of Education, has also confirmed an increase in reports for “attack on secularism” in colleges and high schools. “One of the main ideas of this text is to protect the educational community”, develops Céline Boulay-Espéronnier. “Faced with attacks on secularism, the heads of establishments have no framework, they do not know how to act, the minister has referred them to their own responsibility. You have to give them clear lines. »

The text arrives in the Senate after a similar debate in the National Assembly

The debate on uniforms was relaunched in the National Assembly at the end of 2022 by the National Rally group, which tabled a bill to make school uniform compulsory, colleges and high schools. The text, rejected in committee despite the support of LR deputies, must be examined in session at the Palais Bourbon on January 12, during the niche of the RN group.

“As it stands, the text of the RN was rejected because it is not finished”, analyzes Céline Boulay-Espéronnier. “We prefer to work on ours, it is more worked. We took the time to reflect and we talk about financing, ”she explains.

The presidential majority torn on the issue of uniforms

If the debate on the obligation to wear the uniform is revived at the national level, the presidential majority has not granted its violins on the subject. Pap Ndiaye is against it, he reaffirmed it on the set of BFMTV on January 4th. Céline Boulay-Espéronnier deplores this: “There is a deafness to what parliamentarians are asking for. The minister should be open to the question. It is surreal that he is so sharp”.

On the other side, the Renaissance deputies are not opposed to the idea, even if they voted against the text of the RN. Sarah El Haïry, Secretary of State in charge of Youth said to herself open to the creation of a working group at the National Assembly on the subject.

However, the question of the acceptability of this measure remains. First, on the left, the measure is far from unanimous. In addition, the few experiments in the compulsory wearing of school uniforms that exist, such as the one that has been taking place since 2018 in the city of Provins, are not particularly conclusive.

A text that would be examined in the spring of 2023

Anyway, the bill has been tabled in the Senate, its author hopes for a review in the spring of 2023. For the moment, it is not co-signed by any senator from another political group. “I think that when an idea is good, it is cross-partisan,” concludes Céline Boulay-Espéronnier.

Mandatory uniforms at school: a bill tabled in the Senate