If you’ve read my blog recently, you will have probably noticed that I’ve started a new job in a school as a teaching assistant. When I had the phone call offering me the position, one of the first things that crossed my mind was what I would be wearing. For the past four years, I’ve lived in the typical ‘mummy uniform’ of leggings and long tops, which I realised probably wouldn’t cut in a school. I’ve still got most of my work clothes from when I taught, but three kids later they are more than a little snug!
Luckily, the school that I work in has a fairly relaxed dress code. Everyone looks smart and professional, but comfortable enough to be scrabbling on the floor with the little ones and getting up and down off the low chairs (it’s an Infant school!). Leggings appear to be ok if they are worn as tights (as opposed to leggings being worn as trousers, never a good look!), so I’ve been wearing a mix of black trousers, tops and flats, and dresses with leggings and boots.
I know all schools seem to have different dress codes, with some stricter than others. I’ve worked at schools where it’s been really casual, and I’ve worked at some that have been much stricter. It also depends on the age range with which you are working – a nursery or infant school teacher or teaching assistant is probably not going to be wearing the same as a secondary English teacher. I’m coming at this blog post from more of a primary focus, as I have only had minimal experience of working in a secondary school.
What to wear when working in a school
- Black or Grey trousers – the school staff staple! I’m pretty sure every female that works in a school owns a pair of black or grey trousers. They go with all sorts of tops, and can be dressed up or down, depending on what you are doing. Most of the tops that I wear are black so I tend to add a bit of colour to my outfit by wearing patterned scarves.
- Tunic dresses – with a pair of tights, or leggings if the school allows it and a pair of ballet flats and boots, tunic dresses can look smart but be really comfortable. I don’t like spending a fortune on work clothes because they quite often end up covered in glue or some other unidentifiable substance (think snot. It’s like being at home but with 30 of them!) so I tend to look at places like M and M direct for dresses.
- Cardigans – the one thing that is is pretty much guaranteed across every school is that it will ever be the right temperature. It is always either too hot or too cold, so layering is your best friend. Whatever I wear, I usually have a cardi with me. It can go over shirts and blouses, long sleeved tops and dresses. I have three identical black ones so I know I always have one ready to wear!
- Flats – whatever your position in the school, you won’t sit down for long, so comfy shoes are an absolute must. This pretty much rules out heels! I have made the mistake of wearing heels to work before and wanted to cry in pain by break time. I tend to live in flat black ballet type pumps or boots, and they go with pretty much every single outfit.
- Warm and waterproof coat – Playground duties can be miserable without one. There has been so many times where I haven’t taken a coat because I don’t wear one in the car, and spent a playtime shivering under a borrowed umbrella! If you can, leave one hanging up in the classroom so you always have one to hand.
What are your essential wardrobe items for your job?