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Cutting the cost of school uniforms

After a seven year campaign, started by a group of young people, we changed the law. Now all schools in England will have to make sure uniforms are affordable. It will make a huge difference to families who previously had to choose between paying the bills or buying a new blazer. Learn about our #CutTheCost campaign and what the new law means for your school.

How did cut the cost start?

two school children laughing while looking at a mobile phone

What started #CutTheCost?

It all started in 2014 with a group of young people. They showed how expensive uniforms were stopping children making the most out of school.

Students were having to sit out class or being sent home from school for not having the right kit. Being singled out like this made them worry what others in class thought of them. 

Stories like this one from a project worker about a boy being excluded weren't uncommon:

 

uniform costs getting people expelled

‘A boy I worked with needed new school shoes for September and his dad, thinking he was buying sensible, long-lasting shoes bought him some black boots from Sports Direct. At school, the boy was told this was a breach of uniform, as boots are not allowed. He was told to leave the school premises and return only when he had the correct footwear. He told me

My dad's just spent £70 on these. He can’t afford to buy me any more shoes.

how cut the cost campaign developed

2015

The government promised to cut the cost of school uniforms. It didn't happen.

But we didn't give up. We kept up our research, uncovering how uniforms often cost hundreds of pounds.

2020

Mike Amesbury MP introduced a new Bill to make schools prioritise cost when they set their uniform policies.

Thousands came together to write to their MPs, asking them to support the Bill. It finally became law in May 2021. 

Now we need to spread the word and make sure every school knows about it.

girl at school in uniform smiles

This shows the power of youth voice This showsthe power ofyouth voice

What the uniform bill means 

The new guidance means that schools must review their uniform policies to see how they can be made more cost-effective. This should involve talking to families and pupils to understand their views on the uniform.  

Things to focus on changing might be cutting down the number of branded uniform items. Our research shows that more branded items mean a more expensive uniform. Schools also need to make sure that pre-loved uniform is easily available for families to pick up.

Why this is important

Why the uniform bill is important

The new law promises change for the many parents kept up at night worrying how they’ll afford their child’s uniform. But it’s up to schools to deliver on this promise.

Schools are seeing first-hand the cost-of-living crisis. Rising inflation and soaring energy costs are hitting families hard. With children growing up without the basics they need, it is more likely they will struggle in school.

Making uniforms affordable means families have one less thing to worry about. Children can go to school without worrying about wearing the wrong thing. They can focus on learning and fulfilling their potential.

Two girls in school uniform with their arms around each other smiling

Resources for schools and families

If you have any trouble accessing these resources, or any questions, you can contact us at campaigns@childrenssociety.org.uk.

boy school uniform smiling

Cut the cost of school uniforms in Ealing

We have teamed up with Vanish to improve access to affordable and sustainable school uniforms for children and families in Ealing.

Hear more about campaigns

Keep up to date with our campaigns and help make the changes that children and young people need for a brighter future.

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