Australian School Uniform: Headgear

Figure 1.--This boys are 12 years old and the older students at a primary school. Note their destinctive hats, a style becoming popuklar at Australian schools in the 1990s.

Australian school boys initially wore the traditional English school head gear, peaked caps and boaters. In recent years, schools as the Scouts, have adopted some uniquely Australian styles. Australian school children who once simplu wore the traditional English styles, niw wear some of the most distinctive school headwear. In part the Australian interest in school headgear departs from the desire to protect children who like to play outdoors from the possible harm from the depletion of the ozone layer and increasing levels of UV radiation.


Australian private school boys wore traditional peaked caps, just like the ones worn in England. They were worn at both private schools and state secondary schools. They were particularly common at prep schools, but they were also required at many private scecondary schools. They were commonly worn through the 1950s, but began to become less common in the 1960s. They are today rarely seen in Australia. A few preparatory schools, however, continued to use them as part of the school uniform. Caps based on American-style baseball caps have proven popular. Concern with the ozone hole has put a prmeium on caps and hats with wide bills or brims.


The beret is also worn at Australian schools, but only by girls. While Scouts in different countries have worn berets, school boys in Australia, as in most countries, rarely wear them. Some of the few exceptions are France and Belgium. In most other countries, boys have not wanted to wear berets as school headgear.


Some Australian schools have traditionally worn British-style straw boaters. A few scchools still have boaters, but many have introduced new styled wide-brimmed hats. Some private schools required boaters for dress wear. The boater has almost disappeared in England where it originated, except at a few private girls schools where younger girls might wear them. A number of Australian schools, however, still use the boater. Interesting as it is difficult to conceive of a more impratical form of headgear for active school boys. Often they are only worn for formal occasions, but some schools require them for every day wrar. They are particularly popular at private schools. Australia is virtually the only place where they are still worn. Conventions vary among the different schools. At some schools both boys and girls wear them, at others only the boys. One prep school used the destinctly Australian bush hat. Some new styles of wide-brimmed hats have emerged in the 1990s. This is part because of concerns over the depletion of the ozone hole and rising levels of UV radiation, a particular concern in a country like Australia located so close to the Antarctic and where people, especially children, so enjoy the outdoor life. The styles are being adopted by both private and state schools.

Figure 2.--This boys at this private school in New South Wales wear the traditional boater. The girls wear a different styled straw hat. Click on the image for more details on the uniform at this school.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: November 13, 1999
Last updated: May 20, 2001