Ombudsman blows hot on uniform

David Henderson and Sarah Nelson report from the European Network for School Age Child Care in Edinburgh

SCOTLAND'S liking for school uniform could be transferred across the North Sea to stem the escalating costs of kitting out teenagers in Norway, Trond Waage, the country's ombudsman for children, told the conference.

Mr Waage last week launched a "hot" debate on uniform in his own country after revealing that psychologists were employed by clothing manufacturers keen to weave their products into the culture of the playground. He proposes a less formal uniform than in British schools.

The ombudsman's post was set up in 1981 and Mr Waage has wide powers to protect children's interests, monitor legislation, promote and advocate on children's rights, and propose change.

Everyone under 18 can contact his office free by phone, fax or e-mail. An Internet pupil parliament links every school with the ombudsman's office and has been used recently to gather views on lowering the age of consent to 15.

"Parliament has to listen to me," Mr Waage said, "because my post was created by parliament and based on statute. All the arguments I hear in your country, about how it couldn't be done here, or there's too many problems, or it gives children too much power - we had them all in 1981. But you will not hear them now."

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