Education: School Uniform Working Group minutes - June 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 20 June 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Deborah Lynch, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Stuart Pescodd, Scottish Government
  • Douglas Forrester, Scottish Government
  • Alison Herbert, Scottish Council of Independent Schools
  • Andrene Bamford, Educational Institute of Scotland
  • Greg Dempster, Association of Heads and Deputes in Scotland
  • Izzie Eriksen, Apparelxchange
  • Kelly Munro, Carers’ Trust
  • Leanne McGuire, NPFS
  • Linda Gibson, NASUWT
  • Linda O’Neill, CELCIS
  • Mark Stevenson, Schoolwear Association
  • Mary Cane, YoungScot
  • Matthew Sweeney, COSLA
  • Sara McFarlane, Connect
  • Sara Spencer, Child Poverty Action Group Scotland


  • Joanna Panense, Scottish Autism
  • Julie O’Bryne, Cool School Uniforms
  • Maxine Booth, ADES
  • Tracy Johnston, Education Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The chair welcomed attendees to the meeting and introduced members who have recently joined the group.

Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes from the previous meeting on 25 April 2023, were circulated for comment and the group indicated they were content for the minute to be published on the Scottish Government (SG) website. 

The chair provided an update on the actions from the previous meeting. Updates are noted in the action log.

Update on the consultation analysis report

The chair shared the key principles of the guidance which had been a focus of one of the consultation questions. The group agreed that they were broadly content that the principles were appropriate. The following points were discussed. 

Independent schools

The group discussed the inclusion of independent schools within the scope of the guidance. It was noted that it was important to ensure that matters around affordability and equalities were considered for children and young people in all settings. However, it is recognised that there are concerns from the independent sector about their inclusion in statutory guidance. The Cabinet Secretary recently met with representatives of Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) to discuss their concerns in more detail. SCIS indicated that this had been a positive discussion and that the sector is keen to work together to address the issues related to school clothing affecting families. It was noted that there is an opportunity for continued dialogue and through guidance development, to share examples of good practice between the independent sector and local authorities.

Objective of the guidance

It was noted that schools and local authorities will continue to set their own policies, with the guidance providing a framework to ensure that issues such as affordability, equality and sustainability are considered when local policies are developed. The group agreed that the guidance will help to create a consistent approach across Scotland. It was noted that affordability was a key issue that the guidance would address, and this should include consideration of issues such as durability, washing and drying, comfort, maintaining white items and children’s growth. The group agreed that the guidance should encourage a flexible approach and discourage schools from having prescriptive clothing policies which may impact on affordability. The group agreed that the guidance was an opportunity to promote sustainability and the circular economy.

Views and rights of children and young people

The group agreed that the views of children and young people should be central within the guidance. It was noted that the engagement by the Children’s Parliament was with primary school pupils.  However, workshops were also arranged with secondary school pupils. Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) also indicated there is further research available on school uniform in secondary schools which will be shared with the group.


Share research from CPAG.

The group noted that guidance should promote the right for children and young people to express their own individual identity within the school’s broader identity. The group discussed compliance and noted that the key principles included an approach of no exclusion for non-compliance. It was noted that many consultation responses noted the tension between two of the principles – that there is no legal requirement to wear uniform and that there should be an appropriate response to non-compliance with uniform policies. The group will discuss at a future meeting the approach to compliance in the guidance. 

Structure of the guidance

The chair sought the views of members about the proposed structure of the guidance and invited comments and contributions to the ‘Jam Board.’ The group indicated that they were broadly content with the matters set out for inclusion in the guidance. The following points were raised in discussion:

  • expand section on ‘dress-down days’ to include all occasions where uniform is not worn. This includes school trips, school clubs and special occasion such as school proms
  • the guidance should use good practice examples throughout
  • the guidance should consider uniforms in the senior phase uniforms and where separate ties, blazers or braiding is used for pupils within a school
  • the guidance should consider the transition between primary and secondary school and whether there are opportunities for closer alignment of generic items between cluster or feeder schools to help address issues of affordability and sustainability
  • the guidance should link with other policies, guidance and legislation throughout

The Chair indicated that the ‘Jam Board’ would remain open for any other comments to be shared. 


Group to consider any further comment and include these on the Jam Board. 


The Chair shared the draft timeline with the group. It was noted that the proposed date of August 2024 for the guidance to come into effect may be problematic for suppliers. It was noted that the guidance would be non-statutory initially and convert to statutory guidance later in the Parliamentary term which would help to mitigate some of these concerns. It was also noted that early communication and engagement with interested parties would also support implementation. It was noted that the guidance should come into effect as soon as practically possible to benefit children, families, schools and suppliers. 

The Chair noted that she will review the structure of the guidance taking account of the comments made and begin to develop some of the content of the guidance. This will be shared with the group for consideration by correspondence initially. 


Share revised version of guidance structure by correspondence.

Date of next meeting

The group agreed to meet again in August. A doodle poll with be circulated.

Action log from previous meeting on 25 April 2023

Scottish Government to share a copy of the final version of the report with the group before formal publication.

Status: Complete. The analysis report has been circulated to the group for information. The publication date is still to be confirmed.

Scottish Government to share a copy of the final version of the report from the Children’s Parliament with the group before formal publication.

Status: Complete. The report has been circulated to the group for information. The publication date is still be confirmed.

Scottish Government to update Terms of Reference (ToR) and share with the group for their agreement.

Status: Ongoing. The ToR were updated following comments from the group and circulated for clearance. The group agreed that the ToR should be further updated to reflect the key themes from the Children’s Parliament Report. The Chair agreed to amend and recirculate to the group for further consideration. Once finalised, the ToR will be published on the SG website.

Scottish Government to issue a doodle poll to get an indication of members’ availability in late May.

Status: Complete.

Back to top