Labour Urges Schools To Implement Uniform Guidance

Plymouth Labour is calling on schools across the city to make sure they are implementing new guidance to reduce the cost of school uniforms and the number of branded items each family is expected to buy.

Cllr Tom Briars-Delve is bringing a motion to full council on 21 November which would compel the Conservative Cabinet Member for Education to write to all of the city’s schools, asking them to provide information, including the average cost of their school uniform and PE kit.

Cllr Briars-Delve – who spent 10 years teaching in Plymouth schools – said he’d found it difficult “to see certain children returning in jumpers with gaping holes or blazers several sizes too small”.

“Times have changed since I stepped out of the classroom and into the council chamber,“ he said. “Household budgets are now even more stretched by the cost of living crisis. Local charities, such as Uniform Store Plymouth, have sprung up to help. Some academy chains have introduced stricter uniform expectations, whilst others have prioritised new guidance to remove unnecessary branded items and allow high-street alternatives.

“That’s why we felt the time was right to ask the Cabinet Member for Education to write to every school across the city requesting details of how they have reviewed and updated their uniform policy,” said Cllr Briars-Delve, who is a Stoke ward councillor. “If our motion passes, the schools’ responses will be considered by the Education Scrutiny Committee and Council staff will clearly signpost parents to free options.”

Cllr Sally Cresswell, a former acting headteacher and Plymouth Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Education, will be seconding the motion.

The Department for Education’s statutory guidance, which came into force in September 2022, means that schools and their governing boards must have regard to it when developing and implementing their uniform policies.

The rules came in after Mike Amesbury, the Labour MP for Weaver Vale, brought a Private Member’s Bill following a campaign by The Children’s Society and the National Education Union.

“Plymouth Labour councillors want to ensure that every school has affordable, inclusive uniform policies and local families understand how to access support if they need it,” said Cllr Briars-Delve. “No parent should have to choose between buying a bag of groceries or a set of school uniform for their kids.”