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Schools in England are not required to have a uniform, although the Department for Education (DfE) strongly recommends that they do so. While there are no requirements in place on uniform, the Department for Education expects schools to take account of its published guidance.

School governing bodies decide what a school’s uniform policy should be.

In 2021, legislation was passed for statutory guidance to be put in place to ensure school uniform costs do not become excessive. Guidance published by the DfE sets out that no school uniform should be so expensive as to leave pupils or their families feeling unable to apply to, or attend, a school of their choice, due to the cost of the uniform.

The statutory guidance on costs published in 2021 sets out the considerations state-funded schools should have in ensuring their uniform policies do not lead to excessive costs for parents. The expectation is that schools will comply with the new guidance by September 2022, although there may be particular reasons, such as pre-existing contracts, why some schools come into line with the new guidance at a later date.

This briefing provides an overview of the rules and guidance in place relating to school uniform in England, in particular the recent changes. It addresses some Frequently Asked Questions, discusses previous proposals and reports on uniform costs, and provides information on support with uniform costs across the UK.

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