I appreciate the important role played by stockists, wholesalers and manufactures of schools uniforms.
However, I believe that we have to continue to put a greater emphasis on reducing the cost of school uniforms and other costs for parents.
My Department published measures to be adopted by schools to reduce the cost of school uniforms and other costs, in consultation with parents, in circular 32/2017. This includes principles of cost-effective practices to be adopted, including generic rather than branded items, use of sew-on or iron-on crests, and all elements of a uniform being available from various stores.
The Circular advises that all elements of a school uniform should be purchasable from various stores. The Circular also advises that schools should consult with parents on their views and suggestions on cost reduction initiatives. It is to be expected that in some schools there will be a divergence of opinions on what type of school uniform students should wear. To ensure that the views of all parents are catered for, the Circular is requesting that schools provide parents with the option to purchase all elements of a school uniform from various stores.
Ultimately any decision on school uniforms is a matter for the board of management of each school in consultation with parents.
It is important that schools consult with parents and the school community, and the Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill 2019 will require each school to implement a Student and Parent Charter in accordance with national guidelines to be published by the Minister after consultation with the education partners, including the recognised national associations of parents. One of the key concepts in the Bill is the need for schools to seek to reduce the costs to parents as far as is practicable.
Subject to Government approval, I intend to publish the Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill in the Autumn.