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Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:16 am on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Labour, Barnsley East 11:16 am, 13th March 2020

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This issue does have to be seen in the context of the past 10 years. My area in Barnsley has had the worst cuts in the country, and no doubt that has had an impact. There is no reason why clothes from everyday shops should not be used at a fraction of the cost. Right now, there is no legislation in England that regulates school uniforms. The Bill will make a difference to families in Barnsley and across the country who are desperate to give children the best start in life, even if that means spending money they cannot afford on school uniforms that are unnecessarily expensive. New statutory guidance on school uniform costs that must be followed by schools when setting out their uniform policies will help to put an end to spiralling costs. Barnsley families who are already struggling, due to a near decade of Government cuts to local services, are being pushed into financial difficulty by compulsory uniform purchases.

School uniform is an asset to children’s education, from instilling a sense of school community to supporting good behaviour, but if school uniform prices and policies remain unchecked, they will increasingly become a way of entrenching inequality as schools become a place of punishment and stigma for poor children. The Bill has the potential to change those children’s lives, and I am pleased we are supporting it today.