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Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:27 am on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West 10:27 am, 13th March 2020

It is a pleasure to speak in this important debate about guidance on and costs of school uniforms. We have all been through school and had the experience of looking forward to buying school uniform, or our parents buying it. Hon. Members have rightly highlighted how, when we go to the shop to get the blazers and sports kit, it really sets that sense of transition from primary school to secondary school, which is a really important stage in life, for the vast majority who go to schools with these uniforms.

It is a pleasure to follow Florence Eshalomi. I have three brothers so I was in a similar position on hand-me-downs. Mike Amesbury, in his speech, made an excellent contribution. The reassurance that the Bill is not about getting rid of school uniforms is so important, because they hold an important place in our society. It is not just the uniform—the tie and the badge—that is important; on sports day and in sporting competition between different schools, they allow people readily to see their team and who they are supporting. Uniform lends itself to that ethos and identity within a school.

It is far cheaper to have a school uniform, because it avoids that competitive catwalk approach. My hon. Friend Andrew Lewer highlighted what can happen if a school’s sports kit is not also part of the school uniform; by attempting to reduce the overall cost of the uniform, schools can actually allow other areas of school life to become dominated by cool kit, style and fast fashion. School uniform is important in many different ways.

Perhaps this is a minor point, but children will only appreciate a mufti day at school if they have to wear a school uniform the rest of the time. However, there is a concern that non-uniform days come a little too frequently now and happen for too many different reasons. Perhaps there should be a reduction in such days, because it is now on these occasions that competition over clothing comes out, undermining the value behind having a school uniform.