Research indicates that many school-aged children, in particularly girls, are not sufficiently active. Girls are less active than boys with differences beginning from as young as 8 years. Improving physical activity, particularly among girls, has been identified as a public health priority.
A reported barrier to girl’s physical activity at school is the impracticality of their uniforms. Within Australia most schools require girls to wear a traditional uniform (i.e. a dress/tunic with socks/stockings and black leather shoes). Simply providing girls with the opportunity to wear daily sports uniforms which assist them to participate in a range of physical activities at any time of the school day may represent a low cost, and highly scalable intervention that could be easily adopted by all schools and require no effort to maintain.
We have assembled a research team consisting of leading physical activity, implementation and school based researchers as well as representatives from the health and education sectors who are excited by the policy relevance and potential translational value of changes to school uniform policies on student health outcomes.
To date our research suggests that the majority of primary and secondary school students would prefer to wear their sports uniforms every day and that they believe they would be more active as a result. The full findings of these studies in primary schools can be found here and secondary schools here.
Our research into Principals, teachers and parents attitude to students wearing sports uniforms to school every day has found that overall teachers and parents were quite supportive, however, Principals may need support to overcome barriers regarding the perceived appropriateness of such uniforms for formal occasions. The findings of this research are currently in press and will be available very soon.
Finally, our pilot trial to determine if wearing a sports uniform actually results in more physical activity whilst students are at school has been complete. The study findings are currently under review so stay tuned to for these findings!