The Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021 has been introduced in recognition of the costs that parents must incur when buying school uniform.
The new law means that maintained schools and academies must have regard to the statutory guidance (Cost of school uniforms, DfE November 2021) (guidance), published by the Department for Education on 19 November 2021 when formulating their uniform policies. The guidance envisages that schools should now be reviewing their policies to consider whether any changes are needed.
The guidance sets out the key considerations for schools:
Schools are also required to put in place arrangements for the purchase of second hand uniform. This requirement is in place to assist not only with the cost of uniforms, but also as part of the strategy to reduce emissions and the amount of clothes that end up in landfill each year. Parents should be able to easily access information on where to purchase this and details should also be published on the website. The guidance envisages that it will be decided at a local level how these arrangements are made, which may include the school making arrangements itself or joining a scheme organised by a local third party.
Following the publication of this guidance, schools will now need to consider the timeline for compliance. The guidance expects schools to review their current uniform policy to consider if any changes are necessary and to ensure compliance with the guidance. A list of factors to consider when reviewing the policy are also included to assist schools with this task.
Additionally, the guidance also provides a list of considerations for Trusts when considering the tenders for a new uniform supplier to ensure that new contracts are compliant with the guidance.
It is expected that schools will be complying with "much of this guidance by September 2022". There will be some exceptions, for example where there are existing contracts or informal agreements in place, or where a new tender is required.
Before summer 2022 schools should have actioned:
Schools should be fully compliant with the statutory guidance by summer 2023, however it is recognised that where existing contracts are in place, it may not be possible to comply with all elements of the statutory guidance until the contract with a supplier is renewed. Schools should also ensure that when reviewing their uniform policy, the policy is easily accessible to all readers and is published on each school's website.