Labour unveils plans to save parents hundreds of pounds in school uniform costs, by staff reporter


As the children return to school after their long summer holidays Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson has announced the party’s plan to reduce the cost of buying school uniforms, potentially saving families hundreds of pounds as children return to school for the new term.

Labour will limit the number of branded items that parents are forced to purchase in future by strengthening existing guidance on the cost of school uniforms, as part of a move to “reset the relationship between schools and families”.

Phillipson said Labour will “at a stroke” change guidance created by the Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021 to ensure parents are required to buy an absolute maximum of three “branded” items of uniform and PE kit, rather than multiple branded items such as skirts, blouses, polo shirts, trousers, jumpers and ties.

Phillipson made the announcement as Labour released new research showing the cost of school uniform had risen 30% in the last three years, exceeding the 13% rise in the overall cost of clothing, due to the Conservative-made cost of living crisis.

The Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021, introduced by Labour MP Mike Amesbury, forced schools to review their uniform policies to see how they can be made more cost-effective by keeping branded items “to a minimum”.

Research from the Children’s Society, however, showed that the cost of uniforms was still high, as parents were found to have spent on average £422 a year on secondary and £287 on primary uniforms, driven by the cost of branded items.

The poll of over 2,000 parents found expensive items included:

  • Coats and bags averaging £75 per child annually
  • Sports shoes and boots for PE amounting to an average £63 per child per year
  • School shoes coming in at £62
  • Blazers costing £46
  • Skirts and dresses costing £46
  • Jumpers and ties amounting to £40.

Schools were expected to review policies to ensure they were compliant with the guidance by September last year. Nearly half of parents surveyed by the Children’s Society reported, however, that policies had not been updated.

Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: “As children and parents look forward to the new term, Labour is determined to reset the relationship between schools and families, and that includes reducing the cost of school uniforms.

“With the Conservatives’ Cost of Living Crisis raging, it’s wrong that parents are having to shell out hundreds of pounds to kit out kids for the new school term.

“That’s why Labour will limit the number of branded items of uniform families must buy, save them money, and make sure that every child gets a brilliant state education.

“Yet again, Labour is leading the way where it comes to tackling the Conservative-made cost of living crisis and driving high and rising standards in our schools. That’s why families are better off under Labour.