Resource supports schools with new affordable uniform laws

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Schools must ensure their uniform is affordable for families under new laws and a charity has now published resources offering advice and support.

Published by the Children’s Society and aimed at all state primary and secondary schools, the resources are linked to the new school uniform laws published by the Department for Education in November (DfE, 2021).

All schools are now required to review their uniform policies in light of the new guidance and schools must be compliant with the bulk of the requirements by September 2022.

Importantly, schools are expected to have taken steps to adhere to the new guidance before parents buy uniform for the academic year beginning in September 2022.

The new rules mean thatschools must keep prices down and ensure their policies are more inclusive for children from low-income families.

Among other things, schools must keep branded uniform items “to a minimum”, limiting their use to “low-cost or long-lasting items”. Second-hand uniform items must also be made available and high street items must be allowed.

The new resources have been developed in partnership with the Child Poverty Action Group and Children North Eastand are aimed at helping schools to implement changes to their policies in light of the statutory guidance.
The Children’s Society landmark report in 2015, The Wrong Blazer, has helped lead to the new laws. The research, which was updated in 2018 and 2020, revealed that many schools have unnecessarily strict uniform requirements, such as making families buy uniform at specific and often expensive shops or having lots of branded items.

This meant that for families living on the breadline, it was the choice between letting their child turn up with incorrect uniform and facing the consequences or going without the basics.

Mark Russell, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “School should be a place where every child feels they belong. A uniform can bring the school community together and develop a sense of school identity but high standards shouldn’t have to mean high costs. Long uniform lists put pressure on family finances and expensive uniforms can even push parents into debt or force them to make hard choices to ensure their children have the right kit.

“Our research in 2020 found that one in eight families were having to cut back on essentials, such as food or heating to cover the cost. The stress of having the wrong uniform, and fear of being singled out, has a real impact on pupils’ confidence and wellbeing. They may even be taken out of lessons because of incorrect uniform, losing essential learning time.

“We have designed these resources to help schools understand and be able to navigate the new statutory guidance in front of them. We invite all schools to download our resources so they find it easier to update their school uniform policies making them more affordable by the start of the next school year.”

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