Labour has pledged to limit the number of branded school uniform items that parents are forced to buy in a bid to save families “hundreds of pounds”.
The party intends to change statutory guidance “at a stroke” if it wins the next election to mandate a maximum of three branded items of uniform and PE kit for schools.
Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson announced the plan today as part of a move to “reset the relationship between schools and families”.
Statutory guidance created by the education (guidance about costs of school uniforms) act 2021 came into force last September to ensure “the cost of school uniforms is reasonable and secures the best value for money”.
Schools are now asked to keep branded items “to a minimum”, but research by The Children’s Society in May found that below a quarter of parents believed their school uniform policy had reduced the number of branded items.
The research, a poll of 2,000 parents, found that the cost of school uniforms had actually risen since the guidance came in. Parents of secondary pupils pay on average £422 per year. At primary, the cost on uniform is £287 on average.
The poll showed the average pupil was expected to have three branded items, while 29 per cent of secondary pupils were required to own four to five branded items.
Another 13 per cent of secondary pupils were expected to own between six and seven branded items.
Under the DfE’s own guidance, branded items are not just those with logos, but any item of clothing “with distinctive characteristics which make it unique to the school or trust”.
Phillipson said: “With the Conservatives’ cost of living crisis raging, it’s wrong that parents are having to shell out hundreds of pounds to kit out kids for the new school term.
“That’s why Labour will limit the number of branded items of uniform families must buy, save them money, and make sure that every child gets a brilliant state education.”
A Labour spokesperson added that the party’s assertions are based on savings families with two children at secondary school would make on the cost of uniform items such as trousers, summer polo shirts, skirts, jumpers and ties, and items of PE kit including shorts, skirts and socks.