Could French school children be made to wear uniforms?

The French Minister of National Education is set to announce a “large-scale experiment” on the wearing of uniforms at schools throughout a selection of local communities.

Gabriel Attal says he will then use the experiment to scientifically measure the effectiveness of such an experiment.

“Like many French people, I am divided on the question of the uniform… I am not yet convinced that it is a solution which would solve everything, and also not convinced, like some, that “we shouldn’t talk about it and try it,” the minister told Franceinfo.

Attal added that he was “interested to see what results a large-scale experiment would give in terms of school climate, in terms of raising the level of our students” or the impact “on authority at school, school bullying, questions of secularism”.

Secularism and the separation of church and state in schools has long been a controversial topic in France.

Back in September, France’s highest court, the Conseil d’Etat, ruled in favour of a government ban on the abaya Muslim dress for females in schools.

At the time, President Emmanuel Macron repeated his argument, saying the ban helps to protect secularism in French schools.

Critics still maintain that the dress is a cultural garment and not a religious symbol.

Attal announced the uniform trial will likely be set out in more detail by the end of the year.

It will take place “with a certain number of establishments, in different local authorities which will experiment with the uniform in our country on a large scale,” he explained.

He has yet to confirm the ages of the students concerned but assured authorities will “work with the local authorities concerned so that the experiment can be carried out without any burden for the families”.

“If we see that it is effective, we will be able to have a real debate on the generalisation of the uniform in France, but at least it will be done on a scientific basis,” Attal added.

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