23rd September 2005 at 01:00
Schools have had uniforms for centuries, but they have never been trendier. On catwalks and in corridors, blazers are the in thing as schools seek to set themselves apart from the competition, emphasise high standards or find a new identity that fits their specialist status. In London Fashion Week, we look at what schoolchildren are wearing this autumn - whether they like it or not

Coombeshead community college, Newton Abbott, Devon

Type of school: 11-19 specialist arts and media college.

Hoodies became part of the uniform at Coombeshead college two years ago after the student council asked for something that was "easy to wear and modern". Hoodies are optional and around 15 per cent of children wear them, but they are allowed to use the hood only when it's raining.

During this summer's furore over antisocial sweatshirt wearers, college principal Richard Haigh wrote to The Times: "Follow our example and make them part of school uniform. How uncool does that make them?"

Hoodie: pound;17.

Mossbourne community academy, Hackney

Type of school: city academy with only Years 7 and 8 so far.

Mossbourne opened last September on the site of the Hackney Downs school in east London, in buildings designed by Richard Rogers, with lunchtime menus planned by the River Cafe and a herb garden planted by Jamie Oliver. The uniform - a grey and scarlet combination - is just as one-off and distinctive.

They say: "It is important for pupils and the academy that the way pupils present themselves is positive and acceptable, and creates the impression of a disciplined and well-ordered establishment."

Blazers: pound;49.

Moat community college, Leicester

Type of school: 11-16 comprehensive, open seven days a week.

New this season, Moat community's black and white uniform is a budget-priced solution to the school's desire for a stronger identity.

There are no badges or ties but, providing pupils keep to the rule of white shirt with collar, black top and trousers, they can wear pretty much what they like. Even trainers are allowed, as long as they are "predominantly black".

Assistant principal Jez Holdsworth says: "We wanted to make sure all our students could afford it and that it was widely available."

Uniform: from pound;30, including shoes.

King James's school, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire

Type of school: 11-18 comprehensive with technology college status.

King James's natty tartan was introduced when the school went comprehensive in 1971 in recognition of James I, who granted the charter which established the school in 1616. Girls' kilts and boys' ties sport the red Royal Stewart tartan in years 7 and 8; green Hunting Stewart tartan in years 9 to 11.

They say: "We are proud of our uniform and place great value on it. It is distinctive and easily recognisable within the local community. It provides the students with a sense of identity and contributes to the positive ethos of the school."

Kilts: pound;28.

Christ's Hospital school, Horsham, West Sussex

Type of school: 11-18 independent philanthropic, boarding.

Founded 450 years ago for "fatherless children and other poor children", Christ's Hospital is the only school in Britain to retain its original "bluecoat" for everyday wear. The Tudor "housey" uniform, with its yellow breeches and white cotton "bands" instead of a tie, is provided free. The belt is buckled differently according to the pupil's year group.

They say: "The uniform, the buildings, the marching band and sprinkling of special days each year keep the sense of tradition alive and very relevant to the lives of everyone at Christ's Hospital."

Full uniform: about pound;400.

St Piran's, Maidenhead, Berkshire

Type of school: independent preparatory for 3-13s.

St Piran's celebrates its bicentenary this year. Originally a boarding school for boys - Benjamin Disraeli was a pupil there - it was bought in 1919 by a Cornishman, Major Bryant, who renamed it after the Cornish patron saint of tin miners. He also adopted the colours of gold, dark blue and light blue, but the striped Venetian blazer was not introduced until the 1950s.

Headteacher Jonathan Carroll says: "We wouldn't change our blazers for anything. Everywhere our pupils go, people comment on them."

Blazer: about pound;80.

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