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 glad 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.
Since autumn 2022, schools have been required to help keep costs low by taking steps to remove unnecessary branded items and allowing more high-street options, such as supermarket own-branded uniform. Further, schools also have to make sure that second-hand uniforms are available which will also help working towards achieving net zero carbon emissions. The new guidance also means that schools are expected to use competitive and transparent contracts with suppliers. This is helping to save families money and ensure the cost of a blazer or shirt is never a barrier to accessing the best possible education.
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.