Education: School Uniform Working Group minutes - April 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 25 April 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Deborah Lynch, Scottish Government
  • Douglas Forrester, Scottish Government
  • Alison Herbert, Scottish Council of Independent Schools
  • Andrene Bamford, Educational Institute of Scotland
  • Joanna Panense, Scottish Autism
  • Julie O’Byrne, Cool School Uniforms
  • Kelly Munro, Carers’ Trust
  • Leanne McGuire, NPFS
  • Linda Gibson, NASUWT
  • Linda O’Neill, CELCIS
  • Mark Stevenson, Schoolwear Association
  • Matthew Sweeney, COSLA
  • Maxine Booth, ADES
  • Sara McFarlane, Connect
  • Sara Spencer, Child Poverty Action Group Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The chair welcomed the group to the first meeting of the School Uniform Guidance Working Group. Members introduced themselves and the organisations they represented.

Update on consultation 

The chair provided an update on work to analyse the responses to the public consultation on school uniform. It was noted that there over 2,700 responses to the consultation and a wide range of issues were raised. The key themes that emerged from the consultation were affordability and cost; equalities and inclusion; sustainability; scope; and compliance. It was noted that some responses to the consultation referred to matters which are out of scope, including abolishing school uniform. Some responses also referred to the criteria for school clothing grant. While this is out of scope, it was agreed that the group could explore opportunities to support schools and local authorities to promote clothing grant and support those eligible to apply, aligned to work underway on automation. 

The chair indicated that work is progressing to publish the consultation analysis report alongside responses where consent was given for publication. The group will be kept updated on progress. A copy of the report will be shared with the group in confidence ahead of publication. 

Action: SG will share a copy of the final version of the report with the group before formal publication.

The chair noted that the Children’s Parliament has engaged with children and young people to seek their views on school uniform. The themes from this engagement were broadly similar to those from the public consultation. The report from this engagement will be published alongside the consultation analysis report. A copy will be shared with group members in advance. 

Action: SG will share a copy of the final version of the report from with the group before formal publication.

The group discussed the summary of the consultation responses. It was agreed that it remained the intention that the guidance would focus on issues set out in the key principles, with a focus on affordability, sustainability and equality.

Terms of reference

A draft ‘terms of reference’ (TOR) document was shared with the group prior to the meeting. Comments were invited and the following points were raised: 

  • the group agreed that the guidance should be more ambitious in its aims and the TOR should be updated to include a firmer commitment that the guidance will remove barriers and address disadvantage
  • the group agreed that the TOR should include reference to sustainability
  • the group welcomed the inclusion of parents and carers within the terms of reference and their involvement in the working group
  • the group agreed that their work should be informed by the views of children and young people. The TOR should be strengthened to reference this further
  • the group agreed that in addition to considering uniform and clothing for PE, the guidance should also consider clothing for adhoc activities, such as dress-down days, Christmas jumper days, etc
  • it was suggested that membership of the group is expanded to include representatives of headteachers and organisations with expertise in sustainability initiatives
  • in addition, the group suggested that the TOR were clearer on which groups or organisations they could approach for input on aspects of the guidance. Suggestions included Public Health Scotland, organisations representing black and minority ethnic children and young people, LGBTQ+ children and young people, learners with additional support needs and faith and belief organisations

It was agreed that the terms of reference will be updated to reflect the comments made and recirculated to the group for further consider. 

Action: SG to update terms of reference and share with the group for their agreement.  

In addition to these points, the group also discussed their role in implementation of the guidance. It was noted that this will be considered further as the work progresses. Reference was also made to the inclusion of independent schools within the scope of the guidance. It was noted that development of the guidance will consider specific issues related to these schools. 

Next steps

The group agreed to meet again in late May. At this meeting the group will consider key issues from the public consultation and engagement with children and young people and begin discussions about the shape and structure of the guidance.

Action: SG will issue a doodle poll to get an indication of members’ availability in late May.

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