Pupils vote to keep Bluecoat uniform

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PUPILS at Christ’s Hospital School near Horsham have voted overwhelmingly to keep their unusual school uniform and traditions.

In a ballot the current students of the ‘Bluecoat’ school agreed with their predecessors and expressed their support for the uniform.

It is characterised by the long, dark blue overcoat, yellow socks and white neck bands - substantially unaltered since Tudor times.

The survey confirmed 95 per cent of respondents across the seven year groups were proud to wear it and rejected any kind of change.

A similar percentage either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that the school should preserve its history, heritage and traditions and cited the school uniform as the most important of these. Christ’s Hospital’s marching tradition and the school band – which can be seen at the annual Lord Mayor’s Show – were second and third on the scale of importance.

This dates back to 1868 when, finding the then current craze for marching drill uninteresting, pupils asked the treasurer of the school if instruments could be purchased and played to accompany the marching. Their request was granted and a successful band was formed.

Christ’s Hospital’s headmaster John Franklin said: “We were delighted to see that there is continuing support for our unique uniform and long-standing traditions.

“It is clear that, like past generations of pupils, they regard the uniform with a sense of pride and see it as a positive element for unity and identity.”

Former pupils of Christ’s Hospital School, known as ‘Old Blues’ in a reference to the Tudor-style uniform, are equally supportive of the distinctive uniform. One-time international cricketer Dennis Silk said: “We were very proud to wear the uniform that united us all.”

Actor Jason Flemyng added: “I always loved the school uniform. It meant that we were all the same and part of something important.”

Founded in London 1552 by the young King Edward VI, Christ’s Hospital was established to educate the City’s poorest children and remains one of Britain’s last and largest truly charitable schools in the independent sector, offering children from all backgrounds a high quality education. The distinctive Tudor-style uniform is provided free to all pupils.

Today it is supported by its own charitable foundation, which provides fee assistance to over 90 per cent of pupils, with the vast majority paying less than ten per cent of the cost of their education, and 16 per cent paying nothing at all.

Around 25 per cent of its pupils would qualify for free school meals, against an average of 14 per cent nationally, the school said.