Implementing Government Guidance about the Costs of School Uniforms Act 2021

Posted on April 14th, 2022

YourSchoolUniform.com (YSU) wholeheartedly supports the Department for Education’s guidance on the ‘Cost of school uniforms’. YSU has always been an advocate for school uniforms, with the vision to supply high-quality school uniforms at an affordable price. The new guidance “strongly encourages schools to have a uniform as it can play a key role in promoting the ethos of a school, providing a sense of belonging and setting an appropriate tone for education’.

In order to help you implement the guidance correctly, we have created easy-to-digest key points to answer some of the questions that schools have already begun asking.

It’s important to remember that most schools will already be fully compliant with the new guidance, or may only need to make slight adjustments in order to comply with it.

We fully encourage all of our current schools to contact us if they have any questions or concerns about their uniform in relation to the new government guidance.

What do you need to do?

Please do not panic. The guidance requires all schools to review their current school uniform policy in order to secure the best value for money option for parents, but it does explicitly state that by reviewing your school uniform policy, it doesn’t mean that changes will need to be made. Most schools will already be fully compliant with the new guidance, or may only need to make slight adjustments in order to comply with it.

We encourage all schools to get in touch with us in order to review your current school uniform policy to conclude if any changes need to be made.

How can YourSchoolUniform.com help?

If you think your school needs to update its policy/school uniform to comply with the new guidance, we are here to help. The new guidance also encourages schools to contact their current school uniform supplier(s) to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible if changes need to be made. The guidance also states that the transition should take into consideration that suppliers hold stock of uniforms to help the buying process for parents, therefore, there isn’t anything that needs to be done immediately.

Can schools continue with sole uniform supply arrangements and should your school tender your uniform contract?

The government’s guidance makes it clear that schools are able to maintain sole supply arrangements where “regular tendering competitions are run where more than one supplier can compete for the contract and where the best value is secured”. This contract should also be re-tendered at least every five years.

Tendering competitions helps to keep the school uniform costs low for parents and provide better value for money to families. Schools with more than one uniform supplier will not have to undertake formal procurement processes as these are only required where sole supply arrangements are in place.

The guidance states that schools should not rush into tendering or re-tendering and work with their current suppliers on the next
steps.

For smaller schools, then a quote from 3 different uniform suppliers would be sufficient rather than undertaking a tendering process.

What is a reasonable cost for a school uniform?

The new guidance requires schools to “ensure that their uniform is affordable” and advises schools to consider the total costs of their
uniform, taking into account every item that will need to be purchased in order for their child to attend school.

The guidance does not provide a cap on the costs of garments, which leaves this to schools to decide what is an acceptable cost and if their uniform is affordable. YourSchoolUniform.com continues to be one of the most cost-effective suppliers on the market and we encourage all schools to discuss their policies with us before making any decisions.

How can my school demonstrate low uniform costs?

The government wants to ensure that parents do not have to think about how much a school’s uniform is going to cost when they’re making a decision about which school to send their child to.

Schools are therefore instructed to give high-priority considerations of costs for parents and advise that a school should be able to demonstrate how the best value for money has been achieved when creating or changing a school uniform policy.

The normal uniform procurement process will allow schools to set this out easily, as they are required to either source a range of quotes from suppliers or undertake competitive procurement processes.

Ways to keep costs low for parents

Second-hand uniform sales are a great way of keeping costs low for parents whilst helping the environment. Therefore, schools should ensure that the quality of uniforms should not be impacted when they choose a supplier so that uniforms can last from child to child. There is also a clear expectation on schools to ensure that second-hand uniform is readily available for parents and information about this should be accessible on their website.

YourSchoolUniform.com are partnered with Uniformerly, an online second-hand school uniform marketplace, where parents & PTAs can Buy, Sell, Give Away & Recycle outgrown school uniform. We encourage schools to spread the word about Uniformerly and how it can help keep costs low for families with low income.

Schools will meet the requirement of supporting second-hand sales by following the above measures.

Branded uniform items

The new guidance requires schools to “keep the use of branded items to a minimum”. This includes uniform and sportswear items. It states that schools should also “limit their use to low cost or long-lasting items”. The guidance advises schools to consider which items need to be branded and mentions that having a logo on socks, coats, bags, and trainers is “unnecessary”. However, there is no cap on the amount of branded items that a school uniform can have.

It is also worth bearing in mind that if your school is looking to change its school uniform policy, there will be a number of implications that may not result in a cost-effective uniform. For example, if a school decides to drop a logoed item of sportswear, parents may purchase a sports brand at a higher cost that also doesn’t last as long. This, in turn, means there would be no savings in the long term.

If you need any further guidance or advice on the new Costs of School Uniforms Act 2021, please call us on 01773 837377 or email sales@yourschooluniform.com.