Families will save money on school uniforms from next year, following new legally-binding guidance published today requiring schools to make uniform affordable for all.
The Department for Education (DfE) cost of school uniform guidance means schools in England must ensure that school uniform costs are reasonable, and parents get the best value for money.
Research from the DfE in 2015 showed that parents can save almost £50 on average if they can buy all school uniform items from any store, compared to uniform which all needs to be bought from a designated shop or school. From next autumn, schools will be required to help keep costs down by taking steps to remove unnecessary branded items and allowing more high-street options, like supermarket own-brand uniform.
To support families, schools will have to make sure second-hand uniforms are available, also helping work towards achieving net zero carbon emissions. In the UK, an estimated 350,000 tonnes of clothes end up in landfill every year and encouraging families to use second-hand uniform can reduce waste and bring down emissions from manufacturing new garments, while making it cost-effective for families.
Member of Parliament for Worcester Robin Walker said:
"I am proud that in my department is making practical changes that will help bring down the cost of living for Worcester families.
"I know from personal experience that our children grow up so quickly, sometimes outgrowing shoes and clothes once a term! This makes buying uniforms an expensive task, with the burden falling directly on families. I hope our new guidance will reduce the impact of buying new uniforms on family budgets."
Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi said:
"School uniform provides a sense of identity and community for children and young people, and should be a real source of pride. But it must never be a burden for parents or a barrier to pupils accessing education.
"This 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."
Schools should make sure their uniform policy is published on their website and is clear and easy for parents to understand.
The new guidance also requires schools to use competitive and transparent contracts with suppliers. Should schools need to tender to secure a new contract, they have until December 2022.
Ensuring that uniform does not restrict where pupils go to school supports the government’s commitment to levelling up opportunity across the country.
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.