With the return to school in full swing, we have backed a new law to help make school uniforms more affordable for all. Here is what you need to know about school uniform.
What is your position on school uniform?
We believe that schools should be empowered to decide what constitutes as their uniform. The new act helps schools do this, requiring the government to set out clear guidelines on the costs of school uniform to help schools, parents and pupils understand what is expected of their uniform policy and what might not be appropriate.
This will include measures to keep branded items to a minimum, to encourage the use of second-hand uniform, to make schools’ arrangements with suppliers transparent, and ensure parents have clear and easy-to-understand information about uniform policies.
We expect to publish the guidance in the autumn.
How much should school uniforms cost?
Inevitably, the cost of school uniforms will vary. The new guidance will ensure costs are reasonable for families of all backgrounds and give parents the best value for money.
It is important that we make sure no family is deterred from applying to a school due to the costs for its uniform. Once the guidance is published, schools will be required by law to consider the guidance when developing their uniform policies.
What do you think is appropriate uniform?
Every school will decide its uniform policy for itself but our new guidance will help schools consider how to keep the total cost for parents low.
This includes making sure that branded items are kept to a minimum, thinking about more cost-effective ways of branded, such as sew on logos, and avoiding additional uniform for clubs and extracurricular activities.
What about religious clothing?
We believe that schools should be inclusive of all faiths and should be safe spaces where pupils are able to freely express their religious beliefs. Schools should be sensitive to the needs of different cultures, races and religions and act reasonably in accommodating these needs, without compromising important school policies, such as school safety or discipline. We advise schools to take on board the views of parents and pupils and that policies should be flexible enough to accommodate the different needs of pupils.
School governors should be willing to consider reasonable requests for flexibility in the uniform policy for an individual pupil to accommodate their religion or belief, ethnicity, disability or other special circumstances.
What about rules on hairstyles?
It is for school leaders to decide on any rules on appearance, including hairstyles. In doing so they will need to think about their obligations under equalities law, as well as other important considerations such as the health and safety of pupils.