Schools to be hit with stricter rules to drive down uniform costs
- Credit: PA
Stricter rules are set to be imposed to make sure school uniforms are more affordable for parents and carers, the Department for Education has confirmed.
From the next school year, new legally-binding guidance will be introduced in a bid to drive down the cost of school uniform.
These include a requirement for schools to keep branded items to a minimum, allow high street and supermarket clothing and publish clear and easy-to-understand policies on their websites.
The new guidelines also require schools to supply second-hand uniforms as a more cost effective option and favour competitive and transparent suppliers - with schools given until September 2022 to reconsider their approaches.
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: "School uniform provides a sense of identity and community for children and young people, but it must never be a burden for parents or a barrier to pupils assessing education.
"The new binding guidance will help to make uniforms far more affordable for families by driving costs down as we work hard to level up the country."
Caroline Karimi-Ghovanlou, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Broadland who helped set up a school uniform bank in Norwich in 2019, said the move was "a step in the right direction".
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She said: "School uniforms are important because they stop the inevitable arguments between parents and children over what to wear in the morning, but they can also cost so much money.
"Some schools can be quite strict on uniforms though, which I don't agree with, having a school colour should be enough, so I do think this is a good idea and a good start."
Karen Davis, Norwich City Council's cabinet member for social inclusion, said the measures were a long time coming but left some questions unanswered.
She said: "Overall it is a good thing, but what does 'affordable' mean? What may be affordable for one family may not be for another.
"Will the government ensure no pupil is excluded for wearing supermarket branded clothes?
"If schools want to have a uniform code, all clothes should be available from local shops at low cost - children do not need school-specific colours, blazers, logos or tartans to learn effectively."