Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill, House of Commons, Second Reading, 13 March 2020

School uniforms can help children feel part of a community and instil a sense of pride in their school. School uniforms can also be practical and prevent bullying related harms where children are singled out for what they are wearing.


Key messages

  • We support the Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniform) Bill. The Bill seeks to provide guidance to schools in England about the costs aspects of school uniform policies. 
  • School uniforms can help children feel part of a community and instil a sense of pride in their school. School uniforms can also be practical and prevent bullying related harms where children are singled out for what they are wearing.
  • Research undertaken by the Children’s Society has found that one million children live in families across England who are getting into debt to meet the rising cost of school uniforms. The research also found that parents were spending an average of £340 per year for each child at secondary school – an increase of 7 per cent or £24 since 2015. Parents of primary school children spent on average £255, an increase of 2 per cent since 2015. Research undertaken by market analysts Mintel found that parents spent a total of £510 million on school uniforms in 2018, up from £395 million in 2017 .
  • Councils are concerned about the growing cost of school uniforms and all schools should follow a common-sense approach to their uniforms. The Department for Education should publish guidance outlining expectations on school uniforms. This should include advice that parents should be able to choose uniform items widely available on the high street, making school logos available as sew-on patches, and having a plain sports kit that can be used for different sports. Guidance should also make clear that schools should use a range of suppliers to avoid single outlets having a monopoly that allows them to raise price
  • Some councils choose to help parents with the cost of school uniforms. For example, the London Borough of Hackney spent £72,300 in grants in 2018-19 . Funding pressures on councils are making it increasingly difficult for them to continue these concessionary grants.
  • Any new legislation and associated guidance on school uniforms should give parents at least a year’s notice of any changes so that they can make use of existing uniforms and plan for the introduction of a new uniform.
  • As part of any new legislation, there should also be guidance to schools on helping disadvantaged families with the costs of a uniform. It should also point out ideal best practice to have a scheme where recyclable uniform can be collected by the school to help families that are struggling with costs.

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