Since the Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021 finished its passage in Parliament earlier this month, I have received a huge number of questions from parents, schools and uniform manufacturers as well as retailers on the impact of the Act.
Below I’ve tried to answer many of the questions that have been filling up my inbox.
When will the new guidance be published and come into force?
The Act itself ensures the Secretary of State creates new legally-binding guidance on the cost of school uniforms. The Government have stated that they aim to introduce the guidance in the Autumn. The time that schools will have to implement the contents of the new guidance will be included within it.
What will the procedure be for challenging schools on uniform costs?
This will be confirmed as part of the new guidance when the final version is published. It is expected that after exhausting existing local pathways for complaints, parents would be able to approach the Secretary of State with their concerns over any uniform policies they believe go against the new guidance.
Which types of schools will this Act cover?
The guidance is subject to change until it is published. The draft guidance made available to MPs covers, for example, academies and pupil referral units. It will not apply to independent schools.
Does this Act cover other aspects of uniform policy or just the cost aspect?
This Act covers simply the cost aspect of school uniform policy.
What should I do if my child’s school is bringing in a uniform policy that I believe doesn’t align with the Act?
Firstly, it is important to note that the Act and guidance itself will not come into force immediately.
As the MP for Weaver Vale, I cannot take up cases for other Members of Parliaments’ constituents. I would recommend you get in touch with your local councillor as well as your Member of Parliament to bring up your concerns, as well as going through the schools’ complaints process.
I am interested to hear from families across the country about their continuing issues with school uniforms so that I can continue to raise the issue as a whole with the Government. Please send your experiences to email@example.com, including your address and contact details.
Will the guidance limit the number of logos or stop single suppliers?
The final version of the guidance is yet to be published. It is expected that it will ask schools to limit the number of logos to keep the cost for families down. It will also introduce a robust, transparent tendering process for suppliers so that parents and guardians can be confident that schools are getting the best value for money.
What will the impact be on local uniform manufacturers and retailers?
I have been contacted by a large number of businesses involved in the supply of school uniforms who have supported the Bill. I know there are lots of suppliers who work hard alongside schools to provide families with good-quality affordable uniforms, including within my own constituency.
The Bill is expected to include a robust tendering process which will open up competition for uniforms suppliers.
I welcome all feedback from suppliers on the impact of the guidance as it is brought in. Please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org