The Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill 2019-20 was introduced by Mike Amesbury MP following the Private Members' Bills Ballot on 9 January 2020. First reading took place on 5 February 2020 and the Bill's second reading is due on 13 March 2020. The Bill is supported by the Government.
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The Bill requires statutory guidance to be published on how schools should design and implement their uniform policies. Guidance is currently published by the Department for Education, but is not on a statutory footing.
There is no currently legislation in place on school uniform. However, the Department for Education strongly encourages that schools have a uniform and expects schools to take account of its guidance.
Concerns about the cost of school uniform have been raised regularly in recent years, by select committees, the Children’s Commissioner for England, and in particular by the Children’s Society. The charity has published reports highlighting that concerns about uniform costs can lead to children wearing ill-fitting, dirty, or incorrect uniform, and in some cases affect parents’ choice of school for their child.
In 2015, the Government announced that it would legislate to put current best practice guidance on a statutory footing, including that exclusivity arrangements with retailers for uniforms should be avoided. However, no relevant legislation has been laid before Parliament.
Schools policy is a devolved issue. The provisions in this Bill would have affect in England.
Private Members’ Bills Ballot
At the start of each new parliamentary year, all backbench MPs are invited to enter a ballot. The few MPs who are lucky in the draw may each bring in a Bill of their choosing. Mike Amesbury was drawn in first position in the ballot held on 9 January 2020.