Can somebody please remind me again about state primary school uniforms being enforced.

(37 Posts)
LynetteScavo Tue 30-Aug-11 11:19:10

DS's school is changing their uniform and school logo (junior and infants are combining to be a primary) we've been told we should provide one logoed polo- shirt and one logoed sweatshirt, but can replace the other uniform as and when our children out grow it.

Some mums I've spoken to are refusing to buy the new logoed polo shirts, as they cost £10 each, and have bought polo shirts in the new colour, but without the logo from M&S/supermarket. I really don't blame them, for those with more than one child at the school there is a massive difference in the total price when buying a few shirts.

I had already bought the requested one of each, and went back to the school wear shop today (pay day! grin) to buy some more. But of course the shop is sold out, and there is a huge waiting list for the new uniform.

So I bought some plain polo in the new colour from Sainsburys. (DS had grown out of his old ones, so I had to buy something).

On the one hand I feel the school are being quite cheeky to introduce a uniform which includes a "compulsory" £10 polo shirt, and think other mums who have bought the cheep ones are doing the right thing to make a stand...on the other hand I like to conform, and am scared of DS being told off for not having a logoed shirt.

Where do we stand on this?

scurryfunge Tue 30-Aug-11 11:23:24

A state primary school cannot enforce a uniform rule. The head and governors know this and should not be taking the piss.

CustardCake Tue 30-Aug-11 11:27:54

scurryfunge is right but that won't help DS much. You won't be there to point this out to them if DS gets told off or pulled up on it. The saving grace though is that the shop has run out of uniform so on that basis I would write a letter to the school saying "DS is wearing plain shirts as I visited the uniform shop on 30/8/11 to be told they had sold out completely. He has outgrown last year's shirts so cannot wear these either and I have purchased the closest substitute I could"

mrz Tue 30-Aug-11 11:36:42

it falls to a school's governing body to decide on their approach to school uniform as part of their responsibility to oversee the running of the school under section 21 of the Education Act 2002 and also their duty to ensure that school policies promote good behaviour and discipline among the pupil body under section 88 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006. However, in new guidance to schools on school uniform and related policies (4th October 2007), the DCSF strongly encouraged schools to have a uniform as they believe it supports effective teaching and learning.

NickL Tue 30-Aug-11 13:01:58

£10 for a log polo shirt! They're having a laugh at your expense.

DC's school has iron-on embroidered emblems so we can buy plain shirts in ASDA/TESCO/M&S. So with the various multi-buy deals and whatever we can get a crested polo shirt for under £3.

PM me and I'll send you the details grin

From the directgov site here

£10 for a polo shirt is complete pisstake

caughtinanet Tue 30-Aug-11 13:30:11

Have the school communicated with parents in writing to say that the logoed shirt is compulsary or it a case of Chinese whispers and people getting the wrong end of the stick.

I'd be surprised if a primary head didn't know that he/she can't enforce a uniform. I wouldn't give it another thought and send your DS in what you already have.

Without seeing the shirt we can't know it its worth £10 in terms of quality although it seems to be at the top end pricewise. I've had logoesd polo shirts in the past which while more expensive than supermarket ones do wash and last much better.

I heard an item on the radio this morning about a Which survey that found that some supermarket items were better than more expensive uniform shop items but I can't find anything on their website.

jamdonut Tue 30-Aug-11 15:32:01

When our schools combined to become a Primary we provided each child with one new sweatshirt each, which said "xxxxxxxxxxxx Primary" .Other than new starters, the children were able to wear their old uniforms (as otherwise almost identical) until they needed new uniform. We never specify logo'ed polo shirts,though,even though they are available. £10 seems a bit steep!

LynetteScavo Tue 30-Aug-11 17:53:03

Grrr..I wrote a long post and it's disappeared.

I can see why the tops are so expensive, the logo is quite intricate with a couple of colours, and the quality seems to be good.

The governors have said the new uniform will include "polo shirt with the new school logo." Or they can wear their old uniform (white shirts) until they have grown out of it.

Maybe I'll write a note in his dairy, and tell DS not to take his jumper off when he's not wearing a logoed shirt.

Eglu Tue 30-Aug-11 17:58:58

Our Primary School has logo polo shirts for sale, but nobody buys them as they are so much more expensive than plain ones. Our sweatshirts cost less than £10 too, so those t shirts seem very expensive.

LynetteScavo Tue 30-Aug-11 18:04:50

Well, the sweatshirts are £10 too....but the cardigans are £12. Must be the buttons.

PanelMember Tue 30-Aug-11 18:12:19

I checked all of this when the school at which I'm a governor changed its uniform.

It's not quite right to say that uniform at primary school isn't compulsory. The school doesn't have to have a uniform but, if it does, it can make wearing uniform part of the home-school agreement. If wearing uniform is a "condition of attendance" then the school could (if it chose) refuse to allow a child into school in the incorrect uniform. It would be recorded as an unauthorised absence.

If you do want to contest the new uniform policy, there are other angles you could explore. Did the school/governing body consult with parents (it's supposed to) before making the change? Where do the polo shirts come from - schools aren't meant to enter into monopoly arrangements for the supply of uniform? The Guide to the Law for School for School Governors says governing bodies should pay particular attention to affordability - see para 50 onwards here.

scurryfunge Tue 30-Aug-11 18:47:26

There is no legislation that caters for uniform. Children cannot be excluded at primary level for non compliance.

PanelMember Tue 30-Aug-11 19:01:01

No, there is no legislation that caters for uniform as such but there is plenty that permits schools to have policies on uniform, behaviour and so on. Nor can children be excluded from primary school for non-compliance with the uniform policy.

However, the point here (as I was advised by the DCSF as it then was) is that if a school decided to send a child home for not wearing correct uniform, this wouldn't be an exclusion - it would be an unauthorised absence on the child's part, on the grounds that the parents had made a choice not to comply with one of the conditions of attendance. The distinction is important and is why it alarms me when on threads on school uniform posters sometimes say 'it doesn't matter what your child wears to school because the school can do nothing about it'. That simply isn't true: there are things that the school can do, if it decides. Whether it would make that decision is a different question.

spiderpig8 Tue 30-Aug-11 19:50:02

Well if lots of you decide not to comply what are they going to do? Send the whole school home

scurryfunge Tue 30-Aug-11 20:19:38

Panelmember...there would be no legal grounds for enforcing such a rule. There would be no unauthorised absence because to send a child home would be unlawful. This is true for primary state education and different for secondary, I believe. No primary school will exclude for uniform non compliance and they know this.

PanelMember Tue 30-Aug-11 20:26:43

Scurryfunge - We're obviously going to have to agaree to disagree. The opinion I've offered here comes from the Dept of Children, Schools and Families (as it was at the time, now the Dept for Education). They have suggested that (a) an unauthorised absence is not an exclusion because the underlying decision (ie not to obtain/wear the uniform) is the parent's not the school's and that (b) this could (not to say that it necessarily would) be done in cases of non-compliance with the uniform policy at primary school. What is your source?

Mumsnut Tue 30-Aug-11 20:33:49

It seems nuts to me for a school not to have the right to enforce its uniform policy.

scurryfunge Tue 30-Aug-11 20:40:06

here. Non compliance should not be based on ability to pay.
Schools cannot demand a particular supplier. Common sense should prevail.

Challenge all the way.
There will be no primary school in England or Wales that will exclude on the basis of non compliance with school uniform.
No child will miss out on education for a missing logo on an T-shirt, I guarantee.

carpetlover Tue 30-Aug-11 20:56:26

Panel and scurry are both correct to a certain extent. Scurry is correct to say that schools cannot enforce a uniform with logo or demand a uniform from a particular supplier. However, Panel is also correct in that if a school has included it's uniform, (which to comply with above needs really just to be colour) in its home school agreement which all parents have agreed to and signed then technically they can say a child is non-compliant with school rules.

However, I would think it extremely unlikely that any school would allow a child to miss school simply because the parents couldn't afford the correct uniform.

pointythings Tue 30-Aug-11 21:05:14

Considering this currrent government is so enamoured of the free market, it seems perverse that schools are still allowed to enter into these sole supplier deals - they are a huge, huge ripoff and should be banned.

PanelMember Tue 30-Aug-11 21:24:58

Yes, but the DirectGov site is not a definitive statement. The much more detailed guidance is on the DfE website here. The unauthorised absence point is covered in paragraph 13. There are several places in which the school seems not to have followed this guidance (which is non-statutory).

The guidance doesn't rule out logo-ed items. It does, though, say something about the cost: the governing body is supposed to consider "the cost of including branded items and items in unusual colours/shades before insisting they must be worn, and continually reviews the cost of these items" (paragraph 4). Has the governing body done this?

As I said earlier, I also think the monopoly aspect of getting the polo shirts from one shop is worth challenging - there's Office of Fair Trading guidance on school uniform which would provide some useful background.

I agree, too, that any school ought to approach this with common sense and not use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Whatever power they may have in theory, I would hope that any sensible governing body would not countenance sending children home because they were wearing unlogo-ed polo shirts in the uniform colour. The guidance at paragraph 14 seems reasonable to me.

PanelMember Tue 30-Aug-11 21:26:07

Pointythings - They have been (or, at least, strongly discouraged). See the OFT guidance to which I just linked.

pointythings Tue 30-Aug-11 21:31:08

I've seen that site too, panelmember but i just isn't strong enough. Schools are still getting away with selling logo'd items for £10 for a polo shirt when the high street price is a fraction of that, so I really think it's time that there was some enforcement on this - something like allowing a 10 - 20% price increase from local average (and I mean high street/supermarket average, not posh local shop) but no more than that. Self-regulation has clearl failed, schools now need to be hammered to stop them using uniforms as a tax on parents.

PanelMember Tue 30-Aug-11 21:35:57

I wouldn't disagree, Pointythings. But I wonder too how well-known the OFT guidance is and how many people have used the power that already exists, to ask the OFT to rule on whether a particular school's insistence on logo-ed items available only from one shop is reasonable in the circumstances.

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