Agenda item

Motion submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 14 as to School Uniform Costs

To consider the following Motion in the names of Councillors Reynolds, Scott, Marchington and Munro;


“This Council notes that:


1) School uniform can be a significant expense for many families and the cost-of-living crisis means that buying school uniforms is an even bigger concern than usual for many parents;


2) Recent research by the Children’s Society found that parents spent on average £287 a year on primary school uniforms and £422 a year on secondary uniforms, with branded items costing more. The Children’s Society also found that pupils

are expected to have an average of 3 branded items of uniform, while almost a third of secondary school pupils are required to own up to branded items;


3) The cost of uniforms can be unnecessarily pushed up by practices such as sourcing a uniform from a single specialist provider;


4) The Government has published new statutory guidance aimed at making school uniforms more affordable after a legal requirement to do so passed into law in 2021. In contrast to the previous school uniform guidance, which was non statutory, the Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act, which was introduced in the House of Commons in February 2020, and completed its stages in 2021, became law with cross-party support and requires the Government to publish legally binding guidance requiring school authorities to consider costs when setting school uniform policies. Schools and their governing boards must have regard to the statutory guidance when developing and implementing their school and trust uniform policies. The main points of the statutory guidance are:

·       Parents should not have to think about the cost of a school uniform when choosing which school(s) to apply for. Therefore, schools need to ensure that their uniform is affordable.

·       In considering cost, schools will need to think about the total cost of school uniforms, taking into account all items of uniform or clothing parents will need to provide while their child is at the school.

·       Schools should keep the use of branded items to a minimum.

·       A school’s uniform policy should be published on the school’s website, be available for all parents, including parents of prospective pupils, and be easily understood.

·       Schools should ensure that their uniform supplier arrangements give the highest priority to cost and value for money (including the quality and durability of the garment).

·       Single supplier contracts should be avoided unless regular tendering competitions are run where more than one supplier can compete for the contract and where the best value for money is secured. This contract should be retendered at least every 5 years.

·       Schools should ensure that second-hand uniforms are available for parents to acquire. Information on second-hand uniforms should be clear for parents of current and prospective pupils and published on the school’s website.

·       Schools should engage with parents and pupils when they are developing their school uniform policy.


This Council believes that:


1. The statutory guidance set out by the Government is having a limited impact as some schools are still failing to adhere to the recommendations. This is compounded by the rising costs for standard uniform items and branded items in particular during the current unprecedented cost of living crisis.


2. Schools have a duty to consult parents when developing their uniform policy and to publish the details on their website for prospective and exiting parents.


3. The cost of highly branded or bespoke uniform policies is unacceptable unless schools are able to effectively subsidise the purchase throughout the child’s tenure at their school.


4. Schools are under a huge range of pressures and are finding it increasingly difficult to support parents, although most of our local schools have reuse and recycle arrangements to assist especially since the Government removed the uniform grant provision in England in 2010. Although this has been continued in Scotland, Wales and Northen Ireland, English local authorities are no longer supported to do this.


5. The Children’s Society should be supported in its recommendations to make school uniforms more affordable. This includes:


-          The Government reissuing school uniform guidance to all schools to remind them of their responsibilities in relation to the affordability and availability of schools uniforms.

-          The Government to make the school uniform guidance a statutory requirement, so that schools have a legally binding commitment to comply with it.

-          The government should also explore capping the cost of school uniforms, which would help to ensure that parents are not paying unreasonable costs.


This Council therefore resolves to:


1) Write to the Secretary of State for Education to call on the Government to review and update its statutory guidance, remind all schools of their responsibilitieson relation to the affordability and availability of school uniform and ensure schools have fair and effective uniform policies. To include:


-          a limit on the number of branded items in any school uniform, with an appropriate number of items specified for secondary, primary and specialist schools. Taking into account the frequency of use and lifespan requirement of all items.

-          to prevent schools from making frequent changes to their uniform policy which may necessitate the purchase of new items, including during academisation.

-          to provide further guidance on the requirement for multiple items of similar types of footwear e.g. indoor and outdoor shoes.


If a school does not comply with the updated statutory guidance, parents should be able to complain directly to the Department for Education who should be able to enforce compliance, rather than just to the governing body of a school.


In addition, it should be explored to see if Ofsted could be tasked with policing school’s compliance with the statutory guidance.


2) Continue to work collaboratively with all our schools in Kirklees to:


-          Ensure schools understand the importance of cost-effective uniform policies.

-          Ensure that schools are aware that they should not sanction their students for uniform breaches outside parental or student control.

-          Ensure that schools are able to provide appropriate guidance or support for families struggling with the cost of school uniform.

-          Signpost schools and parents to the excellent provision within Kirklees for recycling and reuse of branded and unbranded uniform through organisations like Uniform Exchange.



Motion approved.