Entering sixth form is a daunting process for thousands of students across the UK. With only two more years left of school, you are given the liberty of free periods, the option to go home during this time, and a choice of what to wear. Different sixth forms will have different uniform policies, so before starting Year 12, it is vital to read your school or sixth-form college’s dress code and fully prepare for the new academic year.
The uniform policy at most sixth form colleges will either be smart casual wear or your own choice of clothes. Sixth form colleges generally trust you to choose sensible clothing which is both appropriate in school and will not cause offense to anyone else. In private and boarding schools in particular, there are stricter rules, and the uniform policy might include suits and formal attire.
In this article, you will discover the uniform policies each different type of school will often prefer, including examples, what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable and other codes surrounding makeup, hair, and accessories.
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What is the most common uniform policy at sixth form college?
At most sixth form colleges, students are permitted to wear casual clothes all the time. This is on the provisor that they are appropriate for school use, think of anything you would be allowed to wear to school on mufti day.
However, what it more important is that you avoid items which may not be permitted, such as open-toed or unstable footwear, joggers, and heavily ripped items (just a few rips in jeans are allowed), which are all seen as “over-casual” by many colleges.
Other items which should be avoided are ones which are too revealing, meaning no severely low-cut shirts, shorts and skirts of a respectable length and no tiny crop tops. As previously mentioned, different schools all have slightly different policies. Some may say that a small amount of stomach shown is tolerable whilst others may ban shoulderless shirts, crop tops and any shorts, skirts, and dresses above the knee; it all depends on where you go.
One final point to be aware of is that almost all institutions have a ban on items which may offend other students. In other words, there should be no slogans using strong language or messages which prejudice against certain groups of people. It is often best to avoid any clothing with controversial statements just to be safe and save those items for outside of school hours.
What is the meant by “smart casual” clothes?
Whilst some colleges trust their students to wear casual clothes all year round, other sixth forms have stricter policy in place to keep teenagers in check. The key word is generally “smart-casual”. Whilst the name of the dress code can be confusing at first, the smart-casual style encompasses any attire which pairs everyday clothing with an item or two of formal wear to create an outfit.
If this is your dress code, you may want to opt for jeans and a plain t-shirt with a smart blazer over the top, or chinos and a polo shirt. Girls may choose a smart skirt and a plain, coloured shirt or a dress and jacket. Just try to use items which are not too informal but are also more casual than a tailored suit.
In smart casual, there are several items which should never be worn. Clothing with large logos, slogans and imaging are usually deemed inappropriate to wear. Any sportswear such as leggings and joggers are seen as more casual than smart and ripped jeans and hoodies come under the same category.
Note that anything which would not be acceptable in the “casual” section would definitely not pass as “smart casual”. For more information about the types of clothing usually classed under his bracket, click here and read the sixth form dress code provided by the Ron Dearing UTC in Hull.
What is meant by “formal attire”?
Occasionally, you may find that a sixth form college asks students to wear formal uniform of their choice. This means anything you would see fit to wear in the world of work, or to an interview, so no jeans or hoodies. Again, it depends on the college and each one will have a different policy but generally, you would be required to wear a smart jacket or blazer and fitted bottoms of some kind.
In most uniform policies, “formal attire” asks for tailored trousers and a matching jacket of the same colour, a collared shirt or blouse and smart, polishable shoes. With girls, formal also allows you to opt for a tailored skirt of dress in the same colour as the blazer.
As with the other styles of uniform, there are items to be avoided. Please read your college uniform policy as well as using the information provided here to confirm the clothing which you can and cannot wear.
Formal wear will never allow jeans, leggings or other casual clothes and rarely incorporates trousers or skirts which are not in a tailored style. You should also avoid wearing a jacket which does not match the rest of the outfit (so don’t wear different colours or shades of colour for each garment.)
It may seem almost impossible to find a suit which matches this brief, but as long as you follow these guidelines, you should be on track to find a qualifying uniform. You can read Kingsmead School’s policy on what is and isn’t included in “formal attire” here.
Where would different types of uniform usually be worn?
As mentioned before, there are three different types of uniform a prospective sixth form college may require you to wear: casual, smart-casual, or formal. In general, you will find that most of these schools will let you wear the casual style of clothing, although there are some state sixth forms who believe their students fair better when wearing smart-casual clothing as it reduces pressure and judgement from other teenagers.
There are only a very small number of colleges who ask students to wear formal suits, all of which are independent institutions. Private sixth form colleges will most likely ask you to wear formal wear as they have a reputation to uphold.
However, it isn’t just sixth form colleges that have dress codes in place. At most school sixth forms, the uniform policy falls into the smart-casual bracket, as this allows students to continue looking smart and professional whilst at school.
At a select few private schools, as with private colleges, there is a formal dress code in place asking for fully tailored suits. Again, these dress codes are in place to keep students in check and prevent a lack of consistency between the formality of younger pupils in school uniform and older students who are expected to set an example for those in lower years.
There are schools which exist that allow students to wear fully casual clothes during the day, but most of them have much tighter rules on what is not acceptable to be worn. If you are staying in school for A-Levels, you will find that they keep a firmer grip on your day-to-day activity, whereas colleges allow freer reign, one aspect of which is the uniform policy.
What are the rules surrounding shoes at sixth form college?
Whether a pair of shoes should be worn or not depends on the type of sixth form college which you are attending and the dress code which has been put in place. Firstly, you should make sure that the shoes you choose to wear follow the guidelines provided by the college.
At independent schools, the general rule is that shoes must be black or brown and polishable (so no suede), and they must also match the suit being worn.
In a smart casual dress code, most shoes will pass the standards as long as they are sturdy and dependable. Footwear which would be deemed inappropriate includes flip-flops, sliders, trainers, and high heels. Some schools and colleges also have a problem with brightly coloured shoes, or certain material in them, so be careful to look closely for these rules in your own uniform policy.
The other factor to take into consideration is comfort. There are rarely opportunities to take shoes off during the school day so what you put on your feet needs to be strong enough to keep them comfy throughout the day. It is advised to wear shoes with a sturdy sole to prevent shin splints or damage to ankles and this will also mean that your footwear lasts longer through the year.
Bear in mind that many sixth forms hold at least one lesson of sport every week, so you will need to have a suitable pair of trainers on stand-by ready for these sessions as well as your day-to-day footwear.
Rules about the colours or patterns you can wear at sixth form college?
In terms of coloured or patterned clothing, this really is down to both your personal preference and that of the education centre. Casual clothing will rarely have any limits in terms of patterns (other than banning any offensive slogans) and the colour scheme of your outfit is up to you.
Smart casual wear usually has no limit in terms of the colours allowed, however, the college which you are looking to attend could have some rules in place. For example, they may suggest that very bold and bright colours would look messy and out of place, and especially in school sixth forms, the point of having a dress code is to keep some consistency in the uniforms of people attending the school.
Sixth-form colleges which ask you to wear formal clothing always have very strict rules regarding the colour of suits. Blue, black, and grey are the most preferable shades for uniform to be worn in and they shouldn’t be brandished with any logos. In terms of shirts and blouses, the preference is up to the academy; some allow all colours and patterns whilst others will ask that you only wear them in plain white.
Note that bright colours are frowned upon in lots of smart-casual or formal wear dress codes, so it is generally very difficult to find any clothing which is appropriate for school that also uses these bold shades anyway.
Accessories, hair and make-up at sixth form college?
In almost all schools, no matter what their dress code, you will find that sixth form is the time when make-up and jewellery are permitted, and hair can be worn loose.
Again, every school and college are different, so please check what you can and can’t wear before attending the first day of sixth form. The only things you may want to avoid are chunky bracelets and necklaces, piercings which aren’t in the ear or extremely heavy make-up.
The most important things to consider when looking to purchase uniform for sixth form college are the type of clothing you should be wearing and the items which are banned from school. Depending on the place where you are going, you can get a rough idea of what the uniform policy will probably entail and use the information above to find suitable items.
However, please remember to check your own school’s uniform policy; that will be the best way to find out exactly what is allowed and what is banned in your school. Enjoy the last two years of school!