Scotland’s biggest council is to relax school uniform standards because some families cannot afford to meet them.
Guidelines issued at the start of the autumn term tell teachers to allow pupils longer to replace scruffy items of uniform and to go easier on those from low income families who fail to follow clothing rules.
The changes come in response to an investigation into the cost of a state education in Glasgow, where up to half of children have been judged to be living below the poverty line. They are in stark opposition to drives by many councils to encourage the use of school uniform.
The advice, issued by Glasgow’s education services, says: “Poverty has the potential to affect all parts of the school day and . . . costs can put up barriers to children and young people enjoying and taking part at school.
“We want to ensure that school costs do not place undue pressure on family budgets, that all children are able to access opportunities and that potential for poverty-related stigma and difference is reduced. Schools should take account of the need for replacement items throughout the year and weather-appropriate clothing. Families should be given an appropriate amount of time to purchase replacement items.
“If pupils do not wear correct uniform then income-related issues should be considered when approaching the issue with pupils.
“School uniforms should be affordable for families on low incomes. Schools should design their uniform policies with very minimum costs at the forefront of their minds.”
John Lewis offers individual uniform items at a cost of £8 to £28 while another supplier offers a school blazer online for £50. Kitting out a pupil is likely to cost well in excess of £100.
The new rules come after a council-backed investigation into the “toxic impact” poverty can have on education.
The investigation, titled The Cost of the School Day, found that “although uniform minimises visible differences it is still the main indicator of income and the first thing to be picked on”.
The guidance also tells teachers they should ensure pupils are not made to pay for stationary or meet the cost of expensive school trips, and not to assume that pupils have a computer at home.