Who knew primary schools were plagued with status symbols? Or that this was even a thing?

One British school has banned pencil cases and is outlawing any designer goods that might distinguish one student’s property as more expensive than another’s.

From the BBC:

St Wilfrid’s Primary School in Blyth, Northumberland, said it had taken steps to get rid of any “designer goods”.

Head teacher Pauline Johnstone said pencil cases have been banned “so there’s no comparison on the tables and children are learning”.

St Wilfrid’s was among more than 100 schools in a project to stop poorer pupils being stigmatised.

After working with charity Children North East, the school has begun providing stationery and has cut down on the number of dress-up and fundraising days.

“There was a culture within the school, within pupils, that noticed those children who were never in on PE days for example,” Ms Johnstone said.

“Part of our uniform policy is a standard backpack so we don’t have any designer goods.”

The ban falls under The Poverty Proofing the School Day project which also discourages conversations that discuss “what we did at the weekend.”

The Poverty Proofing the School Day project, led by Children North East, encouraged teachers to look at ways in which some pupils might be unwittingly excluded.

Schools said it has led to higher attendance and better results.

The charity also said “dress-up” days or conversations about “what we did at the weekend” can also penalise those from low-income backgrounds.

It said schools also found more discreet ways of distributing free school uniforms as parents and children were reluctant to approach them directly.

Pupils at Burnside College in Wallsend, North Tyneside, said not having the “right stuff” caused “pressure” and could lead to bullying.

Jason, 14, added: “If you don’t have the expensive stuff people will call you things like tramp, which isn’t right.”

Like most social programs, this one seems as well-intentioned as any. But failing to prepare children for the world’s cold unfairness and heartless inequity causes much more harm than good, as does passing up the opportunity to teach children how to be respectful to others.

The problem here is less about inequity and more about attitude. And banning pencil cases won’t fix either.


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