Will the new rules around school uniform pricing save parents money?

160222 School uniform
For years parents have complained about the cost of school unfiorms. Credit: PA

At the start of the new term in September, schools will be forced to provide affordable uniforms for their pupils after years of runaway prices left parents frustrated.

The government passed new legislation last April and it will come into effect when pupils return to school next month.

The bill was first introduced by Labour MP Mike Amesbury and it received cross-party support.What are the new rules?

The new guidance has several new rules, which state schools must provide an affordable option for school uniforms.

Schools will still be able to provide their own higher-priced uniforms, often branded with their logo, but an alternative must be available.

High street retailers often sell school uniforms for a much cheaper price. Credit: PA

Schools will also be encouraged to keep the number of branded items that are mandatory to a minimum.

The policy says schools will have to make sure second-hand uniforms are available.They are also being told to allow more high-street options as acceptable uniforms.

A big part of the new rules also centres around transparency, with schools now required to make their uniform policy easily accessible, and make their contracts with suppliers transparent.

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Schools should now also take into account parents' views when deciding their uniform policy.

If the new changes don't either bring down the price of the uniform or the family still cannot afford it, then a school should take this into consideration when addressing a child who is not wearing the correct clothing.Will it bring the cost of a uniform down?

In 2021 the average cost of a compulsory secondary uniform and sportswear was £93 per pupil, which is down from £101.19 in 2020, according to figures from the Schoolwear Association.

Uniforms are worn for 195 days a year and due to the durability of school garments, less than half of those items need to be replaced each year, according to the association. This brings the average annual spend per pupil on compulsory items down to an estimated £33.31 or 17p a day.

With schools now encouraged to allow more high street options in their uniforms it should knock off a chunk from the overall cost.

It is hard to say how much the price will fall due to the different ways schools across the country will implement the new rules.

Schools must now offer second hand uniforms by law. Credit: PA

Some schools were charging between £30-£40 for a single branded blazer but supermarkets like Tesco and Asda offer an entire uniform for under £20.

Some schools will still require pupils to wear branded clothing rather than cheaper alternatives from the high street but rather than previously requiring branded shirt, jumper and skirt the school may now just require one branded item.

Second hand items must also now be offered by law.

The new laws do give parents much more power to contest their school's uniform policy if they think it is unfairly expensive.

If the school still doesn't accept a change then a local MP or the Department of Education should be able to intervene.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "School uniform must never be a burden for parents or a barrier to pupils accessing education."

The new law coming into effect next month should help families to keep down costs, they added.