School uniforms will be made more affordable for families under a new law passed by parliament that will require schools to follow new statutory guidance on uniform costs instructing them to keep prices down.
The cross-party support for the Bill recognised the costs parents face for school uniform, particularly for branded items, and the statutory guidance will tell schools to consider high street alternatives.
It will also include measures on encouraging second-hand uniform; schools’ arrangements with suppliers and ensuring parents have access to clear information about uniform policies.
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “School uniforms are important in establishing the right ethos in a school. They also help to improve behaviour and a sense of belonging and identity. But we want to be sure they are affordable for parents.
“This new law will help to save families money and ensure the cost of a blazer or shirt is never a barrier to accessing the best possible education.”
The Department for Education will publish the statutory guidance in the autumn this year, which will focus on ensuring costs are reasonable for families of all backgrounds and giving parents the best value for money.
It will also advise schools to make sure that when they take up contracts with uniform suppliers, they are competitive and transparent in order to keep costs down.
Mark Russell, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “We are thrilled this new law has passed and we thank Minister Gibb and the Department for Education for their support. This legislation will be vital in ensuring that school uniforms become more affordable for families across the country.
“Young people told us back in 2014 that high-priced school uniforms had a huge impact on their ability to make the most of their education. We hope this new law will make children feel more equal to their classmates and make life easier for struggling families.”