Hertfordshire headteachers are to be reminded that school uniform should be affordable and accessible after the issue was raised by Labour councillor Nigel Bell.

Since May 2021, schools have had a legal duty to consider cost when setting their uniform policy.

They have been told to keep their use of branded items to a minimum, to avoid single-supplier contracts and to ensure second hand uniforms are available.

National guidance now makes it clear that no school’s uniform should be so expensive that pupils or families feel unable to attend.

On Thursday, September 14, the issue was highlighted at a meeting of the county council’s education, libraries and lifelong learning cabinet panel, in response to a motion from Labour group leader Cllr Nigel Bell.

Executive member for education, libraries and lifelong learning Cllr Caroline Clapper committed to write to schools to remind them of the legislation.

“I do not believe any child should be disadvantaged from attending school due to the dost of the uniform,” said Cllr Clapper.

“As everyone in here should know this was government policy three years ago and the schools were written to.

“And I am personally very happy to write to all of the Hertfordshire schools.”

Cllr Bell – who initially submitted the motion to a meeting of the full county council – said it was important to remind schools of their statutory responsibility.

He said he had wanted to make sure everything was being done to help families with school uniform through the cost of living crisis.

At the meeting councillors heard that schools should have already reviewed their school uniform policy, to see if any changes were required in light of the legislation.

However this would not apply, it was reported, if it would breach a school’s pre-existing contract with a uniform supplier or if a school would need to run  competitive tender to set up a new contact for their uniform

Councillors also heard that Herts for Learning Education had been commissioned to look at whether the council was doing all it could to meet the needs of children living in poverty and reducing social ad economic inequity.

That will include visits to look at the strength of early years provision, a pupil premium review and an ‘eliminating economic exclusion audit’.