Headteacher who wants to ban 'harmful' red clothes! School cracks down on 'energetic' colour to help calm pupils 

  • Staff at Eastern Primary School in Dundee, say red items distract children 
  • Teachers want there to be only ‘small amounts’ of red in their uniform 
  • Bewildered parents say that the proposal is ‘madness’ and ‘bizarre'

Eastern Primary School pupils Bethany Dye of class P1 and big sister Megan Dye of class P6 with mother, Pamela Dye, in their bright red uniforms

Fizzy drinks, sweets and E-numbers have all been blamed for making schoolchildren a little excitable.

Now teachers have added another thing to the list – the colour red.

Staff at Eastern Primary School, Dundee, are so convinced of its negative impact on children that they are considering changing the uniform.

Pupils currently wear a bright red jumper or cardigan with grey trousers or skirt. But teachers want there to be only ‘small amounts’ of red – such as in the school tie.

The idea has met with resistance from some parents, who describe the proposal as 'madness' and 'bizarre'.

Headmistress Gillian Knox sent pupils home with a letter saying: ‘Red is often used to energise body and mind, and some research indicates that it can increase heart and breathing rates. [This is] not the calm, relaxed learning state we hope to achieve.

‘A recent study linked red to impaired performance on achievement tasks.

‘Our staff feel that red needs to remain a key element of our uniform but that it would be best used in small amounts, for example, in our school tie.’

The proposal has divided the school community. In feedback, more than half of parents say they would like to keep the uniform as it is.

But the majority of staff voted for a change – with almost two thirds saying they want a largely grey uniform. Meanwhile, the pupils themselves have backed a range of options and colour combinations. 

Louise Tait, 36, whose son is a pupil, said: ‘Red is easier to buy than grey – grey always looks washed out. But the whole issue surrounding the colour just seems bizarre.’

Pupils at Eastern currently wear a bright red jumper or cardigan with grey trousers or skirt, but teachers want there to be only ‘small amounts’ of red – such as in the school tie

Pamela Dye, 34, whose daughters Megan, ten, and Bethany, five, attend, said: ‘I think the school seriously needs help if this is an issue. I’m voting in favour of keeping red. This whole issue of breathing and increased heart rates is just madness.’

Another mother, 27-year-old Danielle Murray, added: ‘It just seems a lot of nonsense – they’ve asked for parents’ input and it largely seems to be in favour of keeping red.


It is associated with the drama of bullfighting and exhilaration of sports cars. And the colour red itself can have a notable effect on us, scientists believe.

Studies have found that drivers stuck in traffic behind a red car react faster and more aggressively than those blocked by vehicles of another colour.

It also makes men seem more aggressive. Boxers who wear scarlet gloves are 5 per cent more likely to win than those in blue, according to psychologists Russell Hill and Robert Barton.

The shade can even have an effect when used in medication. Red pills are more effective stimulants than blue pills, studies revealed.

However it appears to be a myth that bulls are enraged by the colour. The animals are colour blind, so in bullfighting it seems they are angered simply by the flapping of a matador’s cape.

‘I believe uniform has no impact on behaviour – it won’t change how the kids learn.’

Parents are still waiting for the final decision, but have been reassured that if there is a change, the old uniform will be phased out gradually.

The proposal has also been met with scepticism from experts.

‘The word gobbledygook comes to mind,’ said Dr Jack Boyle, an educational psychologist based in Glasgow. ‘There are plenty of schools with red jumpers. It sounds all pretty far-fetched. The research would have to be examined.’

However Richard Woolfson, who has written several books on child development, thinks it could be worth a try.

‘It has long been established that there is an association between colour and emotion,’ he said. ‘That is nothing new.

‘Generally blue is associated with calmness and red is associated with passion, anger, much more intense emotions.’

He added: ‘There is an endless list of factors that contribute to a pupil’s performance – the colour of the uniform may be one of these factors but I suspect is it pretty low on the scale. ‘

A Dundee City Council spokesman said: ‘Feedback is being encouraged and the school will keep pupils and families informed of developments.’


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