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Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:20 am on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of Robert Courts Robert Courts Conservative, Witney 11:20 am, 13th March 2020

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. She is absolutely right. I do feel that a house system and that pride in being part of a group, as well as the competition between houses, is very helpful in providing a support network. That does help to guard against mental health difficulties, too.

I wonder whether any other hon. Members agree on this point. I do not suppose that any of us, when we were young, particularly enjoyed putting on a school uniform. We would have much rather dressed more informally, following our friends in whatever the latest and greatest trends and fashions were at the time. So no one will thank us for school uniforms, but they do have the advantage that children can just wake up and put it on. They are not required to consider how they look. They are not required to consider whether they are in keeping with fashion, whether they have done better than they did yesterday, or whether they are looking better than their friends and peers in school. To that extent, it helps with focus. It helps students to focus on what they are meant to be doing, which is going to school and focusing on learning, without that added pressure. There are already so many pressures on young people, which we discuss so often, arising from peer groups, social media, the internet and magazines, so it may be that there is that additional benefit.

Even if we all accept that point—I suspect we are all more or less on the same lines in seeing that there is a benefit—there is no getting away from the fact that in some circumstances a school uniform can provide a pressure on parents. I hear in my own postbag, as much as other hon. Members do, from those constituents who struggle with the cost. In some circumstances, it is a cost that they are unable to bear.