Kirsty Williams AM has today published statutory guidance to make school uniforms more affordable, accessible and gender-neutral.
The new Welsh Government guidance comes into force from 1 September 2019 and provides advice for governing bodies and head teachers on issues relating to school uniform policy. The previous 2011 guidance was non-statutory and, as such, schools were not legally required to have regard to it.
Governing bodies will be expected to consider ways of keeping down the costs of uniforms. These could include stipulating basic items and colours but not styles, meaning items could be bought from more than one outlet. Schools will be expected to consider whether school logos are strictly necessary and if they should apply to just one item of uniform or provided free of charge.
A school’s uniform policy would also be expected to be gender-neutral. This means that when a list of clothing items would be published by the school, the items would not be assigned to a specific gender. For example, trousers would not described as a ‘boys item’.
The Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, said:
Families will know how expensive new uniforms can be. This guidance puts a statutory responsibility on schools to consider the affordability, access and availability when setting their school uniform and appearance policy.
Along with Pupil Development Grant access, this guidance will help reduce the burden on families so our children can focus on fulfilling their potential and enjoying a healthy academic and social life.
We should not be enforcing outdated ideas of what clothes are suitable for their gender, especially if it makes them wear something they feel uncomfortable wearing.
This new guidance makes clear that school uniform policies should not dictate items of clothing based on gender.