Schools welcome law change to make uniforms more affordable

Craig Smith

Chief operating officer at Bedfordshire Schools Trust, Craig Smith - Credit: Bedfordshire Schools Trust

A new law which will make school uniforms affordable for all has been welcomed by the Bedfordshire Schools Trust - which runs schools in Arlesey, Langford and Shefford.

The Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021 received Royal Assent on Thursday, with statutory guidance due to be issued in the autumn.

The cross-party support for the Bill recognised the costs parents face for school uniform, particularly for branded items.

The legislation will instruct schools to keep prices down and make sure contracts with uniform suppliers are competitive.

It will also include other measures such as considering high street alternatives and encouraging the use of second-hand uniform.

BEST educates nearly 5,000 young people in 10 schools located across Central Bedfordshire, including Etonbury Academy in Arlesey and Samuel Whitbread Academy in Shefford.

Chief operating officer Craig Smith said: “I welcome the announcement of this new legislation, which is good news for families.

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"I am pleased to see the government is listening and giving help to those that need it.

“All of the schools within BEST make their own arrangements for the supply of their uniforms, which are already kept under review so that families are not expected to fund excessive costs.

“This law will ensure our schools continue to give the best possible value for money.”

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: "School uniforms are important in establishing the right ethos in a school.

"They also help to improve behaviour and a sense of belonging and identity. But we want to be sure they are affordable for parents.

"This new law will help to save families money and ensure the cost of a blazer or shirt is never a barrier to accessing the best possible education."

Matt Easter, co-chair of the Schoolwear Association, added: "As the leading schoolwear industry body, we welcome the Bill and the help it will provide for schools looking for further guidance on their uniform policies, to ensure the process of choosing a uniform supplier is as robust, competitive and easy as possible."

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