*** European national education systems

Eucation: European School Systems

British prep school uniform
Figure 1.--English boys in preparatory commonly wore uniforms of blazers, short pants, and knee socks. This photograph was probably taken in the 1970s.

Most of our modern school uniform styles originated in Europe. England is the single most important coutry and it was here that the first modern school uniform appeared--originally for poor children at charity schools. Later the English introduced The school cap tie and blazer originated there. Other important styles like corduroy and grey flnnel trousers are English. The English school uniform in the 19th century took on an auora of privlidge. France is also an important country, introducing the smock as required school wear, as a republican experiment of reducing income differences between children. Many other countries adopted smocls. The sailor suit became one of the most common school outfits in many European countries, but was not generaly worn as a uniform.

Austria (1918- )

Austrian boys like German boys did not wear school uniforms, except for a small number of boys who went to military schools. The boys simply wore their ordinary clothes. Younger boys at the turn of the century often wore the popular sailor suit. Older boys wore various styles of suits. Sailor suits became less popular in the 1930s, especially after the Anschluss in 1937. Boys also common wore lederhosen, although these durable leather shorts declined in popularity in the 1960s as jeans became increasingly popular.

Austria-Hungary (1866-1918)

Prussia defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) this ended the Hapsburgs' attempt to unify Germany. Rather the Hapsburg lands were recreated as a dual monarchy with extensive possessions to the east and south of Germany. The Empire was governed by a German and Hungarian ruling class. Other nationalities has lesser rights. The Empire had to deal with increasing demands from subject nationalities for autonomy or even independence. The issue of nationalities became the most difficult for the Empire. And one of those issues was the language of instruction in the schools. People tended to want their children taught in their own native languages.


Belgian schoolwear has developed along the same lines as France. Belgian boys have not commonly worn formal school uniforms like their across the Channel English cousins. The smock became a type of uniform in several European countries, especially Belgium, France, Italy, and Spain. I believe the use of the smock in Belgium was influenced by its adoption in neighboring France. Beginning with the French Third Republic in the 1870s through much of the first half of the 20th century, elementary school boys in Belgium and France wore black, dark, blue, or grey school smocks over their clothes. As this was a very common practice, it gave the appearance of a school uniform. Not all French schoolboys wore smocks--serving to obsure social differences. One account from 1900 describes a French boy who began the lycee wearing a sailor suit with long curls his mother dearly loved. I believe that such styles and experiences would have been quite similar in Belgium. Most boys did not wear school uniforms, but some Catholic schools did require them. Blue sweaters, shortpants, and white kneesocks were a common style. The schools that still require uniforms have now mostly mostly changed to long pants. While Belgian and French school uniforms trends have been similar, the Belgians appear to have held on to traditional styles some what longer than the French.


Little information is available on Bulgarian schoolwear. But one image provides some clues. We do not yet know if there were uniforms during the Communist years following World War II. We are hopeful that Bulgarian readers will provide us some information about schoolwear.


Croatia was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then after World War I part of Yugoslavia. Part of Crotia was awarded to Italy as part of the World War I peace settlement. We have some information on a school at Parenzo when it was part of Italy. Yugoslavia was invaded by the Germand (1941). Yugoslavia succeeded and for 3 years was a quasi-independent German puppet. Croatia was returned to Yugoslavia after the War. Tito supressed nationalist seniment. This reemerged after his death. Croatia in the 1990s fought a war for independence from Yugoslavia and is now an independent country. We have little information on Croatian schools at this time. The years as part of the Austro-Hungariam Empire left Croatian education with a strong German influence. We are less sure about the impact of four decades of Communist roles. The modern school system includes primary andc secondary schools. Primary schooling included two stages. The first stage was grades 1-4 and then 5-8. Secondary schooling before World War Ii was primarily for childreb from affluent or middle-class childrem. After the War as in other European countries, the sevondary school system was significantly expanded. The secondary system has several options: grammar schools (gymnasium), vocational schools and art schools. This was similar to the system in Germany. The grammar schools include schools with various emphasis, including general, mathematics and IT, linguistic, classical and scientific schools. There are different programs at these schools. Vocational schools offer courses lasting 1-4 years. Students could leave as early as age 15 years. There was a period of practical instruction. The arts schools vary and included: music, dance, visual art and design. Secondary students have to pass an entrance examination to enter university in professional fields. A State Secondary School Leaving Examination was introduced 2008/9 for grammar schools, and 2009/10 for 4-year vocational schools. It was designed to replace the entrance examination at most higher (tertiary) education institutions. We have few details about different types of schools suring both the Austrian period and Yugoslav royal period. The Communists closed private and relgious schools. We do not know if they have been restablished in modern independent Croatia.


Assessing Czech schools is a little complicated in this mational format. This is because the Czech people have been incorporated over time in many different states. Bohemia was once an independent kingdom and then for many years was ruled by an Austrian monarchy under a range of constitutional arranhements. As a result, Czech education was heavily influenced by German educational trends. After World War I Czechslovakia was created, an independent state with both Czechs and Slovaks as well as othernationalities. The NAZIs dismembered Czechoslovakia, but it was restablished after World Wwar II and became a Communist puppet state. After the overthrow of the Communists, Czechoslovakia was paritioned intto the Czech Republic and Slovakia.


Cyprus is a eastern Mediterranean island. It was for years a part of the Ottoman Empire. After World War II it was controlled by the British. Independence from the UK was approved in 1960 with constitutional guarantees by the Greek Cypriot majority to the Turkish Cypriot minority. In 1974, a Greek-sponsored attempt to seize the government was met by military intervention from Turkey, trsulting in partitioin of the island. We have little information on school uniform trends, but assume they follow Greek and Turkish styles.


Denmark borders Germany and we thus see a lot of similarity between Danish and German schoolwear. Sailor suits wee very popular in the ealy 20th century. Many boys wore knee pants and long stockings. After World War I, short pants and knee socks became more common. After World War II, short pants began to decline in popularity. Danish school children by the 1970s were wearing the same basic styles popular throughout Europe. A Danish reader tells us, "I can only supply with the information that only one or two very old boarding schools in Denmark demands a uniform. Danish pupils do not wear a school uniform. I think you may have forgotten our country." [HBC note: We have not forgotten about Denmark, but our site depends on readers to submit information on their own countries. So far Danish readers have provided HBC very information about their country.] At this time all we have is an unidentified class portrait taken during World War II in 1943.


No country has inluenced the school uniforms worn by children around the world more than England. The tradition of school uniforms in England is a little complicated. School uniforms in England are oftn assocaiated with privlidged children at the country's elite private schools. Uniforms at school, however, were first worn by poor children at charity schools. Only later were they adopted by priavate schools, in typical British fashion, referred to as public schools. Children at the country's developing state school system during the late 19th and 20th century did not wear uniforms. Britain was late to provide a free public education to children. Some European countries, especially the Germans had a much more extensive public school system. Britain had a great variety of state and charity schools for those who could not afford a private education. Uniforms were first intriduced for children at charity schools to identifybthem and for purposes economy. Uniforms for the affluent children at private schools were introduced much later. Children at statte elementary schools until the 1960s did not commonly wear uniforms. Both privatevand state secondary schools did require uniforms. Uniforms served to build the esprit de corps of the school. Uniforms also prevented rich parents making poorer parents feel humble. Despite thism Left-wing politicians (Labour) in the 1960s and 1970s objected to uniforms which led to the individualistic fashion shows of today which make poorer parents subject to the new uniform dictates of "Nike", "Puma", "Adidas" and rendered blazers very expensive as suppliers shrank.


The Estonian educational system was heavily influenced by the Soviet system. We note boys without school uniforms right after World War II (figure 1). We note boys wearing short pants including suspender shorts. One boy wears a sailor suit. There seem some rather old boys at the back, perhaps their education was delayed by World War II. Many boys have short, cropped hair. Presumably as the country began to recover from the War, the standard Soviet school uniform became more common. Since independence, Estonian school children no longer wear uniforms. I'm unsure just what other changes have taken place in education since independence. One change is there are now schools that operate in the Estonian as well as the Russian language.


We are unsure about Finnish school uniforms at this time. Finland until 1918 was a part of Tsarist Russia. We have noted Russian students, at least at the secoindary level, wearing uniforms. This may have also been the case in Finland, but Finland had the status of a grand duchy and was somewhat autonomous in Tsarist Russia. We note primary children who are not wearing uniforms. After independence we are not sure what steps were taken, if any, concerning school uniform. Modern Finnish students do not wrear uniforms.


French boys have not commonly worn formal school uniforms like their across the Channel English cousins. Children did formerly have, however, a uniform look. The smock became a type of uniform in several European countries. Beginning with the Third Republic in the 1870s through much of the first half of the 20th century, elementary school boys in France wore black, dark, blue, or grey school smocks over their clothes. As this was a very common practice, it gave the appearance of a school uniform. Elementary schoolboys also often wore berets with their smocks. Not all French schoolboys wore smocks--serving to obsure social differences. One account from 1900 describes a French boy who began the lycee wearing a sailor suit with long curls his mother dearly loved. While most French children did not wear uniforfms, Catholic schools often did require uniforms. White knee socks were commonly worn with blue shorts at these schools in the mid-20th century. Today jeans and track suits dominate at French schools in the increasingly common pan-European look.


Germany has been a world leader in education and today operates one of the world's outstanding educational system. The German educatuon system dates from the middle ages. With the exception of the NAZI era when the education system deteriorated severely, the country has cobnstantly been at the forefront of European educational development. German schools have never required school uniforms as in Britain and other European countries. Even during the height of the military's popularity in Imperial Germany or the NAZI years, there was no great interest in uniforms for school children--a fact some observers find curious. A specific school uniform seems to be more an Anglo-Saxon/Brtitish Empire institution. Except at military schools, German boys have not generally worn school uniforms. German boys in the early 20th Century wore a variety of clothes to school. Sailor suits and suits were the most common, but some boys also wore smocks like French boys. Since World War II, uniforms have been unpopular in Germany. Boys commonly wore shorts and knee socks, even secondary age boys in the 1950s. After the early 1960s, shorts are not commonly worn, except for casual summer wear. As a result, there is no traditional German schoolboy dress as is the case of British schoolboy caps and blazers or Italian and French schoolboy smocks. Two different school systems developed in Germany after the war, a democraric sysrem in the the Russian occupation zone and a democratic system in the American, English, and French zones. Post war Germans have been especially ill-disposed toward school uniforms. Some parents, faced with rising school discipline problems are beginning to reevaluate their long-held opinions on school uniform. The two post-war systems were merged after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany in 1989-90.


I dont think that Greece ever adopted a strict school uniform rule. School uniforms were actually banned in 1981. But even before children didnt wear strict school uniforms. In the 1960s and 70s the uniform was comprised of something like a blue overal. I am not sure about that but the uniform surely didnt look like those of the U.K. or other european schools. During the 1930s and 40s (or something like that) boys of school age had to wear a special hat with an owl badge on it. It looked like a cop cap and they should wear it at all times even outside school, even at play. If a teacher caught them not wearing it they would be punished next day at school. A HBC reader reports, "The only personal memory of school uniform I have is at parade days". Schools and the military do a parade twice a year. At Independence Day (25 march) and Ochi Day ("No Day," remembering the Greek resistance of World War II, 28 October). Students of 5th and 6th grade of elementary schools and selected students of high schools do a parade on those two days. All students must wear a uniform which is determined by the board of the school. The uniform items must be always blue and white. A HBC reader reports, "I had to parade as a 5th and 6th grader at October 28. I remember my school's uniform was consisted of short blue shorts, black or blue shoes, white dress kneesocks, a white sweater and the school's badge. I remember that it felt weird having to wear shorts during a chilly October morning." At that time (late 80s) most elementary school had uniforms with shorts. Nowdays its very rare to find a school with a shorts parade uniform even if it is an elementary school.


We have not yet acquird much information on Hungarian schools. Our Hungariam archive is very limited. We have some limited information. We see some Hungarian boys in the 19th century wearing military-styled uniforms. Modern Hungarian boys did not wear school uniforms. Some uniform-type garments do seem to have been widely worn, both school caps and smocks. Some schools appeared to have required smocks in the 1960s. As a Communist Government was in power, this may have been a nationally mandated style, but HBC has only limited information at this time on school smocks and uniforms.


The ethos of the Icelandic educational system was once described as "School for each and everyone" designed to preparing student for life and work in a modern democratic society. The schools seek to promote independent thinking and personal development without any bias relsated to gender, scocial class, religion, handicaps and background. Optional plsay schools are available for younger children. The formal school program begins at age 6 and is divided into three major levels: primary schools, lower secondary schools, and upper secondary schools. Attendance is compulsory in primary and lower secondary schools (grades 1-10) through age 16 years. The basic curriculum includes: maths, languages, history, and religion. In the lower secondary school there are options with include handicrafts, baking, painting, singing, physical education, swimming, and story-telling. When a student finishes his compulsory basic education at age 16, he has a range of options to choose from. There are four types of upper secondaty schools--framhaldsskóli meaning “continued school”. First, industrial-vocational schools offer programs in trades, including electronics, information technology, Note that the vocational skills include both traditionally male and female occupsations. carpentry, dressmaking, hairdressing, etc. Second, specialised vocational schools offering programs in specific trades and careers This includes clerical schools offer preparation for office jobs, including clerks, tellers etc. Third, comprehensive schools offer a mixed program. They have a program including both academics and industrial-vocational indstruction. There are also specialised vocational programs. This includes special music schools which offer instruction in singing and musical instruments. Fourth, academic schools offer preparation for university education. Upper secondary education or , follows lower secondary education. These schools are also known as gymnasia. This is a 4-year program ending with matriculation exams. The age range of the upper secondary schools compare to the last 2 years of high school sand the first two years of college in the American system. Academically it is a little more dfficult to assess. Most Icelandic children attend public school. There are very few private schools. An Icelandic student tells us, "We in Iceland don´t wear school uniforms."


As a former part of the U.K., Irish school uniforms generally followed British styles of caps, blazers, and shorts. One boys Catholic secondary school even required a kilt uniform. Few Irish children now wear caps and shorts, even in the elementary schools. Simple uniforms of sweaters and ties, however, are still common.


We have manged to find very little information on Italian school uniforms. Hopefully some of the Italian visiors to this web site will provide some information. I believe the pattern in Italy has been similar to that of France. Most schools did not require a formal school uniform like that common in England. Rather Italian elementary children have worn smocks over their regular clothes. Often a single style of smock was required. Many schools had a dark blue smock worn with a wide Peter Pan collar. At one time this appears to have been a nationalrequitement. We do not at this time have any chronmolgical information on Italian school smocks. Gradually different colors of smocks appeared. Also schools eventually made the smock optional.


We have no information on what Latvian school children wore in the Tsarist era or during the brief period of independence before the 1940 Soviet invasion. As a Soviet Republic, Latvian school children wore the same standard school uniform worn all over the Soviet Union. Latvian designers suggested a change of uniform in 1975, but it was not approved by Soviet authorities. After independence in 1991, the Soviet uniform was dropped, but we do not yet have information on schoolwear in independent Latvia.


We have no information on Lichtenstin schools at this time. We do have a view of a Christmas party at Leichtenstein school.


We have no information on what Lithuanian school children wore in the Tsarist era or during the brief period of independence before the 1940 Soviet invasion. As a Soviet Republic, Lituanian school children wore the same standard school uniform worn all over the Soviet Union. After independence in 1991 school uniforms were dropped in primary schools. Only in gimnaziums (there are 2 Russian and 3 Lithuanian gimnazium in Lithuania) do pupils wear uniforms. Other Lithuanian schools do not require uniforms.


Macedonia is the area of the Balkans north of Greece ad west of Bugaria. As a result of Alexander the Great it has been associated with Greece and was susequently a part of the Roman Empire. It was conqired by the Ottomans in the late-Midde Ages. Schools in Macedonia such as they existed were part of the Ottoman Empire. After World War I (1918), Serbia regained Macedonia and a few years later became a constiuent part of Yugoslavia. Thus for about 70 years, Macedonian schools were part of the Yugoslav school system. An example here is a secondary school at Bitola during 1941, probably just before the German invasion. Especially after the Communist take over, a highly centrized education system was developed. We note a primary school in Strumica during the 1950s. The school seems rather crowded. Macedonia achieved independemce as part of the breakup of Yugoslavia (1990s).


Monenegro was a part of the Ottomsn Empire. There was no Ottoman public ediucation syste. lliteracy was a serious problem, especuially among women. Montenegro under Nicolas I began its movemeny toward indepence (1860). The Ottomans were able to suppress the movement even whemn Serbia became involved. Independence was not fully change until the the Russo-Turkish War (1887-88). Even before full indepedence was achieved, the Montenegrans began opening schools. There were only a few primary schools in Montenegro under Ottoman rule. As Montenegro moved toward independence many new schools were opened -- 72 new schools (1868-75). They were small schools teaching some 3,000 childrem Primary education was made mandatory and was free. The Government opened a teachers' seminary school and the Girls' Institute were opened in Cetinje (1869). he Girls' Institute was a specialized school to train primary school teachers. Next the Government opened an agricultural school in the newly developed town of Danilovgrad (1875). The school had to close after only 2 years becasuse of aniother indepoendenvce war with the Ottomans. A similar school opened in Podgorica (1893). The schools began to prepare a new generation of Montenegrian leaders. The first 'lower classical gymnasium' (grades 5-8) was opened (1880). It was expsnded into a 'higher classical gymnasium' (grades 9-12) (1902). One source reported 75 public and 26 private schools (1899). Nontenegro sided with Serbia in the Balkan Wars and World War I. The country was devestated by Wirld War I. This of course affected the schools. Americamn food aid prevented starvation after the War. And there was additional aid to the schools. Montenegro became part of Yugoskavia (1923).


Dutch boys never wore school uniforms Nor did they commonly wear smocks altough HBC has note some Dutch boys wearing smocks and pinafores at the turn of the 20th century. Boys in rural areas might wear wooen shoes. Dutch boys commonly wore short pants to school through the 1950s, often with knit swearers. Dutch boys increasingly began wearing long pants by the 1980s and now dress in pan-European styles of jeans "T"-shirts ans sweaters.


Norway like other Scandanavian countries have not required school uniforms. Boys wore their normal clothes so school wear has simply reflected the contemprary Norwegian fashions. Norwegian readers tell HBC that the individuality and importance of personal choice has meant that school uniform has never proven popular in Norway.


We have little information on Polish school uniforms or Polish boys' schools in general. Hopefully some of the European visitors to this web site will provide some information. Poland like many countries of Eastern and Central Europe has undergone cataclismic political changes in the 20th Century. These changes were especially significant in Poland. Poland in the medieval era had been one of the most important countries in Europe, but as a result of the 18th century Polish partitions, Poland was reased from the map of Europe. This led in the 19th century to efforts by Austria, Germany, and Russia to supress Polish natioinalism and culture. Only in the 20th century was Poland reconstituted. The resulting political changes have significangtly affected the educational system which of course affected school uniform and dress.


Education in Portugal was for years dominated by the Roman Catholic church. Portugal led the European maritime outreach in the 15th century, but gradually was overwealmed by larger and more powerful maritime states. Portugal became a backwater of Europe. The Church for centuries kept a tight reign on education. This did not begin to change until the Socialist revolution (1975). Theschools tend to be, however, poor by European standards. We do not know a great deal about Portuguese schoolwear, but since the 19th century, many children wore smocks.


HBC has not yet obtained much information on Romanian schools or schoolwear. A few schools were estanlished as the Romanian principlities established their autonomy from the Ottoman Empire (early-19th century). Romania was created as a modern inified state (1866). As the Romanians could not agree on a Romanian to becom king, Chancellor Bismrck secured the crown for a Germn prince--King Carol I (1866). The Germany monarchy strongly influencd many aspects of Romanian life, espcially the middle-class urban population. Education was one of the many areas, if not the most important area, influenced by Germany. And it is at this time that the country began to build a modern European educationl system. We see boys wearing school uniforms in the era before World War I. We believe that this was mostly in the secondary schools. We believe that uniforms were worn during the Communist era. We do have some limited information about Romanian military schools. We also have some jnformation on the Banat during the Austrian/Austro-Hungarain era. The Banat is a Austro-Hingarian Province that after Wirld War II was divided between Romania and Yugolavia.


Russian elementary children used to weer distinctive uniforms, both before and after the Revolution. This suggests that the continuation of the uniform after the Revolution was influenced by the pre-War tradition rather than a change of direction by Soviet educators. The fact that the Soviets unlike educators in the rest of Europe, continued uniforms suggests the insular policies persued by the Soviets in many areas. School uniforms for girls did not change greatly after the Revolution. Girls' uniforms consisted of a black dress with an Edwardian style pintafore white apron. Boys before the Revolution often wore a Russian revival style bloused tunic. Many schools during the Soviet era had military style uniforms. Several European countries has school uniforms in the 19th century, but this was rare in the 20th century, especially after World War I. Russia was one of the few countries where school uniforms were worn. The boy's uniform continued to have a military look. This changed after World War II when the Soviet Union carved out an Eastern European Empire. Many of the new Soviet satellite countries either influenced by Soviet authorities or attempting to emulate Soviet examples also adopted uniforms. The Eastern European sdchool uniforms had a less military style than the Soviet unifiorms. After the disolution of the Soviet Union children no longer wanted to wear the Soviet-era uniforms.


Scotland as part of the United Kingdom has basically followed prevailing English British school uniform styles. Most Scottish school portraits are indistinguishable from Schools in England. England of course was a much more populace country and thus English fashions dominated British fashion. Standard school uniform styles in England and Scotland are esentially the same. It would not be possible in most cases to identify British and Scottish school boys. There have been, however, some differences. In addition, as a more traditional part of the country, changes often occur more slowly in Scotland than in England. The major difference is of course the kilt. But the kilt was nitbthat wudeky worn at schools to be if much use in identifying Scottisg=h schools. We are not sure to what extent the kilt was worn in the 19th century at eithr state or private schools. We do see it to some extent in the Highlands, but most of the Scottish school photographs we have found are from the 20th century and do not show any of the bots wearing kilts. We do know that in the 20th century that most Scottish private schools adopted the kilt as their dress uniform. Other than the kilt rgerewas littke differece between England and Scotland.


The earliest schools in Sebia after the fall of the Roman Empire, as in many other European countries are associated with the Christian church in the medieval era (11th-12th centuries). Serbian independence in the mid-19th century made possible the foundation of a national educational system financed by the government. The Great School was the foundation for the University of Belgrade, Serbia's most prestigious education institution (1905). The Communists after World War II placed a great emphasis on mass education. A major effort was made to eliminate illiteracy. Education seems heavily politicized in Serbia. Still intense nationalist sentiment and the influence of the Orthodox Church appears to be factors. A major development in Europe has been the declining nationalist feeling. This has been a notable trend in Westen Europe. The situation is different in the former Communist states of Eastern Europe, but as they integrate with Western Europe, the same process will likely occur. Russia under Putin has apparently rejected this process. And Serbia under Mislosovich did the same resulting in the terribly destructive Balkan Wars as Yugoslavia impolded (1990s). Here Serbian education has to share part of the blame. Serbian schools have continued to teach a highly nationalistic history. Serbia today is politcally divided between Serbo-centric politicans desirng to cling to Russia and Euro-centric politicans desiring to integrate with Europe. Serbia like the other Yugoslav republics before the break up of the Yugoslavia had a highly diverse population. I am not sure at this time just how language and cultural problems are addressed in Serbian schools. We see Yugoslav children wearing both regular clothes and uniforms to school. This has of course changed over time, in part becuse of the very substantial political changes that have affected the country and changing school regulations. The regular clothes were of course affected by changing fashion trends. There were also major diffeences between rural an urban ares until after World War II. There were also differences depending on the type of schools. City children commonly wore suits to school in the early 20th century. This was especially the case in secondary schools. We see a lot of younger children wearing sailor suits.



We have no information on Slovenia education during the mideival era. Our information only comes from the 19th century during the Asustro-Hungaroam Empire era. Public education was a relatively new phemomenon, unlike Prussian and the northern (Protestant) German states. The Austria Law on Primary School Education (1869) not only accelerated the cultural development in Austrai, especially in rural areas and in the Crown lands including much of modern Slovenia. The primary schools establisged were coeducational schools and brought education opportunities into rural areas with the creation of many village schools. Secondary education continued to be limited to urban areas and mostly middle- and upper-class children--largely boys. The principl secondary school was as in Germany the gymnasium. The language of instruction was German. Soon after World War I and the establishment of Lingdom of the Southern Slavs/Yugoslavia (1918), the process of usung the local languages began. In the case of Slovnia it meant the Slovenisation of the existing Austrian education system. This mean secondary education in Slovenian. In addition the Slovenian University was organized. The existing Austrian education system was not significantly changed except the language of instruction. It is no accident that Slovenia was the best educated and most literate part of Yugoslavia. Slovenia was the only part of Yugoslavia associated with Austria. (Croatia was associated with Hungary and Bosnia was only rcently annexed in 1908). Strangely the first major educationl reform was the Yugoslav Educational Law (1958). This occurred well into the Communist era. The principal change was to shift student choice to a later point in the educational process. The Austriam imperial system offered a variety of choices only during the compulsory primary phase. The new Yugoslav system whoch was mandated for each of the states in the federation shifted differentiation from age 11 years to 15 year olds. It only increased eucational opportunities for most children. Yugoslave educators describe it as replacing a hard transition with a softer process with the effect of increasing the nunber of children in the secondary schools.

Soviet Union

The Soviet Union was more of an empire than a country. Thus we have generally archived Soviet school images under the constinuent republic that became independent countries when the Soviet Union imploded (1992). We have acquired Soviet images that are not identified. So we don't know where to archive them other than the Soviet Union. Of course Russians were a major part of the Soviet population. This is a difficult problem because as the Soviet Union begam to manfate uniforms for school uniforms, they did not have different uniforms for the various republics. There are a few clies. We see brown suits and dresses in Ukraine rather than the standard navy blue. Of course that does not show up in the photographic record until the 1980s when we begin to see color photography. We see some school children wearing folk outfits to school. We are not sure how common this was. Based on prevalence in the photographic record, they do not seem very common. We suspect that they were worn on special occaasions or school events of some kind. An when we see an enyire class dressed up in folk outfits, we wonder if the school did not provide the outfits. Folk costuming and dance was a rare instabce in which the Soviets permitted ethnic expression.


HBC at this time has very limited information on Spanish school uniforms or schoolwear in general. School uniforms do not appear to have been common in Spain, with one exception. School smocks, which are a kind of uniform, do appear to have been common. Spanish school children were commonly wearing smocks by the 1930s, although we are not sure when this paractice first began. Short pants were common until the 1970s. Young kindergarten age children still commonly wear smocks in Spain. It is no longer common, however, for older boys to wear them--but some still do. Spanish contributor report that school smocks are still worn at many Spanish schools, especially private schools.


We have very limited information about Swedish schools. We have not yet researched the Swedish school system. Swedish children have not worn school uniforms. Sweden is located in northern Europe, thus the climate is a very important factor affecting schoolwear and clothing in general. Sweden is influenced by European styles, but we see some substantial differences which look to be strongly influenced by the climate. We note considerable seasonal differences. We see children wearing a lot of cold weather garments like jackets, coats, and sweaters. We do have a few images from Swedish schools which provide some informtion on schoolwear in various eras. As uniforms were not worn, these school portraits provide a very useful look at children's clothing in Sweden over time. The image here shows a typical Swedish school class in 1952. Hopefully our Swedish readers will provide us some information on Swedish schools and schoolwear.


Switzerland is a multi-ethnic and mult-linguistic country. There were not just kinguistic differences, but the various lanuages reflected a more profound cultural divide. Until the 1960s, schoolwear was heavily influenced by the different national groups making up the Swiss union. Boys at schools in French catons, for example, commonly wore French styles like smocks. In contrast, boys at schools in German catons generally did not and wore German styles. Swiss boys did not normally wear school uniforms. Many French schools required that the younger children wear smocks, which is somewhat like a uniform, although there was not normally a srtandard school smock. State schools did not normally establish a specific style, but some private schools did. Today in Swiss schools there are few differences from caton to caton. And the children wear the same pan-European styles that becane popular in the 1970s.


The Ukraine has only been an independent country since 1992. Before that it was part of the Soviet Union and Tsarist Russia. HBC has developed some basic information on modern Ukranian education. Primary and secondary schools encompass 11 years. Uniforms were commonly worn in the Soviet period, especialy after World War II. They are no longer worn by school children.


Ulster is northern Ireland and part of the United Kingdom. We have listed the various U.K. countries separately, primarily because of differences between England and Scotland. We know very little about Ulster schools at this time. There are significant differences between the educational systems in Scotland and England, but not between Wales and England. We are not entirely sure about Ulster. As far as we know, the education system in Northern Ireland is very similar to the English system with some rather minor differencs. One is that the age of a child on July 1 decides when they begin school while in England it is September 1. The schools follow the Northern Ireland Curriculum, which is based on the National Curriculum used in England and Wales. This became mandated by law at all key stages (2009/2010 academic year). The primary difference is that Catholic and Protestant students mostly attended different schools. In the United Kingsdom, both systems are supported by the state. A reader writes, "I see that there is little information about Northern Ireland in HBC. This is a shame as it is interesting. Being ‘very British’ and a fairly conservative place it has preserved until recently many of the uniform styles that were more common in England a couple of generations ago." Our reader has provided an account of his personal experiences at a grammar (selective secondary) school.


Wales was conquered by the Normans in the 12-13th century before the developmnt of the British education system. Thus education developed in Wales along the same pattern as in England. During the 18th century, John Griffiths set up many Sunday schools in Wales to teach the Welsh how to read and write in Welsh, bringing mass literacy to Wales, something not seen in England until the late 19th century. A Welsh reader writes, "The Welsh Sunday schools in the 18th century came about after noncomformity and the chapels began to dominate Welsh life (the chapels did dominate Welsh life right up until the middle of the 20th century) with their firebrand preaching. The literacy (in Welsh, not English) in Wales led to many Welsh books being printed and many households owning their own Bibles." [Morgan] With the advent of state-financed public education, the inroads of the English language into Wales increased. As far as we know, all of the state financed schools like National Schools conducted classes in English and insisted that only English be spoken. We note in the 20th century little difference between English and Welsh schools and school uniform. We do have details on one Welsh school, Cowbridge Grammar School which dates back to 1607. A Welsh reader writes, "Since the 1950s Welsh language education (and that is education through the medium of Welsh, not just teaching the Welsh language to pupils) has become evermore popular."


Yugoslavia was formed as a nation for the southern Slavs after World War I (1914-18). The nucleus and largest component of the new country was Serbia. Serbian natonalism had sparked the War and the Serbs throughout the War had been a stalwart member of the Allied coalition. After the War the reward was a new nation fo the southern Slavs. The Serbian monarchy became the monarchy of Yugoslavia. In additionto Serbia, Yugoslavia was also formed out of several other countris and provinces, including Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia. We know vey little about the Yugoslave educational system. We have very limited information about Yugoslav schools at this tim. We tink that until World War I that the schools were largely operated by the contiuent parts of the country. We are unsure what kind of effort was mde to create a national education system. Here religious differences were a factor. This of course changed after World War II and the communist takeover.

Organizational Note

This page is developing overtime. Our inclination at this time is to organize it on the basis of modern national states. Thus information on the Soviet Union will be found under Russia and other succssor states. Informatin on the Austro-Hungarian Empire will be found under Austria, Czechs, Hungary and other successor states. Here we are open to reader suggestions concerning this approach.

Careful, clicking on these will exit you from the Boys' Historical Clothing web site, but several are highly recommended

  • Apertures Press New Zealand e-Books: Appertures Press has published three different EBooks about New Zealnd schools.
  • School Uniform Web Site: Informative review of British school uniforms with some excellent photographs
  • British Preparatory Schools: A photographic book depicting life at British preparatory schools during the 1980s. Most of the schools are English or Scottish, but schools in Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ulster are also included. The pictures show the uniforms worn at many different schools.
  • British Prep School eBooks: Apperture Press has published six eBooks about different vaspects of British public schools. Volume I is a general assessnent. The other volumes deal with more specufuc aspects of the schools ahd school life.
  • Information: Information about school uniforms in America