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 know that Ministers have been looking for an opportunity to put this guidance on to a statutory footing and as such I was pleased to see the Government support a private members bill aimed at reducing the cost of school uniforms back in March. I’ll be supporting this Bill as soon as it comes back to Parliament.
It’s important to help families with the cost of living and I expect schools to consult with parents and pupils, and take their views into account when setting the school uniform policy.
Uniforms should always be easily available for parents to purchase and whilst there is rightly a sense of pride that pupils and families have in their school, compulsory branded items should be kept to a minimum. These problems are often compounded by single supplier by contracts, locking in prices for schools and parents. On entering these, schools should always be mindful of family costs and ensure a competitive tendering process to ensure prices are kept affordable.
All schools should be fulfilling 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 it with the headteacher in the first instance.
If any school locally has a uniform policy which you think would hinder the ability of a parent to send their child there, please let me know as I don’t want any family deterred from their preferred school for this reason.