The government is worried about the cost to parents of school uniforms.
A month-long consultation is currently seeking views from students, parents, carers, teachers and suppliers on the role uniforms play in secondary school life.
Education Minister Julie Edge told the House of Keys in its sitting this week that her department was particularly ‘conscious’ of the cost to parents.
She said: ‘We’re in a cost-of-living crisis and we need to make sure that when head teachers are making decisions when it comes to their individual schools that they are taking into account everything that could impact on anyone in our society.’
It follows feedback from a number of stakeholders, she said.
‘The intention of launching this consultation is to gain views from the public and stakeholders, specifically around equality, cost and the future of school uniform, to ensure it’s not seen as a barrier to participation in learning,’ Ms Edge said.
‘The department would like to understand the public view on the role that school uniform plays within the culture, ethos and day-to-day school.
‘Consultation will inform future policy and guidance development and help to shape new school uniform policy principles, which will underpin individual school policies.’
Each school sets its own uniform requirements based on guidance issued by the Department of Education, Sport and Culture, so students know what to wear and what happens if they fail to do so.
MHK Jason Moorhouse felt there was value in the consultation but in some respects ‘it could be divisive’.
He asked when head teachers were made aware of the consultation, to which Ms Edge explained that it had been raised with them before publication.
She added: ‘The responsibility for each of our schools’ uniform policy lies with the head teachers and their governing body. They’re the people best placed to maintain this as they know the content of their individual schools.
‘The department’s role in this is to come up with the general guidance used in schools.
‘The aim of that is to highlight considerations that head teachers and their governing bodies, when developing and implementing school uniform policy, should follow.’
There is no specific budget allocated to the consultation from the government.
‘Costs are different throughout all of our schools and that’s why we need to look at how we go forward with this,’ Ms Edge continued.
‘It’s an opportunity for all of our teachers, students, parents, carers, any stakeholder out there to have the chance to give us feedback on current school uniform.’
She encouraged anyone with an interest to have their say on current school uniform policy, its benefits and how they think it could look in the future to get involved.
The consultation can be found on the ‘Consultation Hub’ on the government website and closes on February 16.