Thank you for contacting me about school uniform and the cost of school uniform.
Ultimately it is for a school’s governing body to decide whether there should be a school uniform in place. However, I know that colleagues in the Department for Education strongly encourage schools to have a uniform as it can play a valuable role in contributing to the ethos of a school and setting an appropriate tone. Schools are expected to consult with parents and pupils, and take their views into account when setting the school uniform policy.
School uniforms should always be affordable and should not leave pupils or their families feeling that they cannot apply to a particular school. The Department for Education’s guidance makes clear that schools’ governing bodies should give cost considerations the highest priority and ensure value for money for parents when setting their uniform policy. I am therefore pleased that a new law, supported by the Government, has been introduced which requires schools to follow new statutory guidance on uniform costs and instructs them to keep prices down. This will help save families money and ensure the cost of a blazer or shirt is never a barrier to accessing the best possible education.
The introduction of the Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021 has been welcomed by many parents who have found that this new guidance will make school uniforms cheaper across England and Wales. I appreciate this is disappointing that this has not been put in place for the start of the academic year, however, colleagues have assured me that guidance will be issued in the autumn, which will stipulate how school authorities should consider costs when setting school uniform policies.
The guidance states that uniform items should be easily available for parents to purchase and schools should keep compulsory branded items to a minimum. It also states that schools should avoid single-supplier contracts but where schools do choose to enter into such contracts, they should be subject to a regular competitive tendering process to ensure prices are kept affordable.
Schools are expected to fulfil their duties under equalities legislation and be willing to consider reasonable requests to vary their uniform policy to accommodate an individual pupil’s beliefs, disability, or other special consideration. I would strongly encourage any parent concerned about the uniform policy at their child's school to discuss this with the headteacher in the first instance.
Thank you for getting in touch.
Richard Fuller MP