Cost of school uniform will never be a barrier to school, vows Zahawi

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New statutory guidance will be unveiled shortly to address concerns about the cost of uniforms. All schools in England will have to review their policies and make changes so parents “see the benefits”.

Mr Zahawi is a strong supporter of school uniforms but he is concerned at schools insisting on branded items he considers “unnecessary”. He claims a lack of competition among suppliers can push up costs.

The Schoolwear Association last year reported that the average cost of compulsory secondary school and sportswear is £101.19 per pupil. However, the Department for Education’s research in 2015 said the average secondary school bill came to £231.01 for boys and £239.93 for girls; a Children’s Society survey last year found “parents with children in state maintained schools spent on average £337 per year on school uniform for each secondary school child”.

Mr Zahawi told the Sunday Express: “School uniforms are synonymous with education in this country. They provide a sense of identity and community both for young people and schools themselves.

“What they should not and must not ever be is an unmanageable burden for families, or worse a barrier to attending their school of choice.

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“I know there are instances where the costs of school uniform have gone too far – where schools are insisting on numerous or unnecessary, branded items or where a lack of competition is resulting in high costs for parents.

“This simply isn’t right, which is why the Government supported the School Uniforms Bill earlier this year, and will shortly publish statutory guidance for schools that instructs them to make sure the uniform they require is affordable for families.

“So whether it’s reducing the number of branded items or improving schools’ arrangements with suppliers, parents can be confident that going forward the school uniform they are buying is good value for money and, most importantly, never a barrier to their child attending their school of choice.”

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