/New school uniform law could save parents a lot of money

New school uniform law could save parents a lot of money

A new school uniform law will bring cheer to thousands of hard-pressed parents who are struggling to pay high costs for their kids’ school clothes.

Labour MP Mike Amesbury is introducing a bill this week, following a campaign by the Sunday People, which is set to become law by the spring.

Schools will be told they can specify basic items – such as skirts and trousers – but not styles.

This means parents can purchase cheaper clothes at supermarkets rather than having to fork out for branded clothing from a single supplier that can cost an average £340 a year for secondary schools or £255 for primary schools.

Dad Howard Callaway, 51, and his wife Karen, 46, dread the cost of fitting out their three children with compulsory branded uniforms.

Karen, a teaching assistant from Hull, said: “We can’t afford three branded sets so this news is fantastic.”

Mr Amesbury said: “Head teachers will be required to draw up a totally inclusive uniforms policy.”

Nearly one in six families said school uniform costs are to blame for them having to cut back on food and other basics, compared with one in seven in 2015.

School uniform costs are a big headache for many parents
(Image: PA)

One parent told the Poverty Commission: “The cost of school uniforms is like having to afford two Christmases.

“You start shopping at the beginning of the school holiday, so you can pace yourself over the six weeks.

“To do that you have to take money out of the food budget, or less on the electric.

“But this stuff is essential, so you have to afford it.”

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Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson asking him to honour the pledge the Conservatives made four years ago.

The new law would compel the government to follow the example in Wales, where school heads can specify basic items but not styles, allowing parents to shop around.

Mr Williamson said: “No uniform should be so expensive as to leave pupils feeling unable to attend a school of their choice.”

Mr Amesbury will get a second reading of the bill in March.

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