Education: School Uniform Working Group minutes - October 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 12 October 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Deborah Lynch, Scottish Government (chair)
  • Andrene Bamford, Educational Institute of Scotland
  • Maxine Booth, Association of Directors of Education Scotland
  • Izzie Eriksen, ApparelXchange
  • Mary Cane, YoungScot
  • Sara McFarlane, Connect
  • Leanne Mcguire, National Parent Forum Scotland
  • Hannah Brown, Education Scotland
  • Kelly Munro, Carers’ Trust
  • Stuart Pescodd, Scottish Government
  • Sara Spencer, Child Poverty Action Group Scotland
  • Mark Stevenson, Schoolwear Association
  • Matthew Sweeney, COSLA
  • Douglas Forrester, Scottish Government (secretariat)


  • Alison Herbert, Scottish Council of Independent Schools
  • Joanna Panese, Scottish Autism
  • Linda O’Neill, CELCIS
  • Linda Gibson, NASUWT
  • Tracy Johnston, Education Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed members to this latest meeting of the group and noted apologies.

Minutes and actions from the previous meeting

The Chair invited members of the group to email her with comments on the note of September’s meeting by end of October. The note of that meeting will be published online thereafter. An update on the action points was provided.

Action: National Parent Forum Scotland, Connect and Child Poverty Action Group Scotland will meet to consider text for the guidance to support communication between schools and parents and carers.

Discussion on updated draft of the guidance

The Chair indicated that she had circulated the latest draft version of the guidance in advance of the meeting.

The Chair provided an update on the decision by Ministers that the guidance would apply to local authority schools and be available to grant-aided and independent schools for their consideration.  The Chair noted that Ministers had engaged with representatives from the independent school sector and considered the evidence from the public consultation.  Representatives from the independent school sector have provided assurances they would take account of the guidance when setting uniform policy in their schools.

Whilst it was accepted that government has limited powers over legislating on the independent sector, Izzie indicated that she disagreed with the decision and asked that this be noted.

COSLA asked whether in light of this decision, there was a need for the guidance to be made statutory in the future, noting that there are a number of pieces of non-statutory guidance implemented by local authorities.  SG and COSLA agreed to continue to discuss this point as work progresses on finalising the guidance.

The group discussed the guidance.  The following points were raised:

  • the wide-ranging scope of the guidance was welcomed
  • there was considerable discussion about the structure of the guidance and whether it would be appropriate for sustainability or affordability to be before the equality section.  The section on equalities and inclusion is important but, given its length, might not be most suitable as the first section of the guidance. There were a range of opinions shared.  The Chair will reflect on the discussion and consider updating the structure
  • the guidance should be used as a tool to ‘de-stigmatise’ views about pre-loved uniforms, promoting their use as the preferred choice
  • the Ministerial foreword is a further opportunity to promote pre-loved uniforms, both de-stigmatising them and promoting behaviour change in response to the climate emergency
  • include summary of the specific consideration section at the start of the section, rather than in a later appendix to provide a summary of the key points

The group also discussed circumstances where schools are merged, or pupils move to a new school.  The following points were noted:

  • engagement with parents and carers and children and young people is vital ahead of uniform changes
  • consideration of the impact on pupils in upper years who may be close to leaving school at the time of such a change
  • reducing the use of logos and exclusive suppliers and using common colours, could minimise the financial impact on families. The consultation highlighted that school colours are seen by many as an identifier
  • schools could consider providing ties or badges either free or at a low-cost to help children moving schools

The Chair indicated that summarised information about school uniform and clothing for parents and carers and children and young people will be developed.  A sub-group will be established to take this forward.  Members were asked to indicate to the Chair if they wanted to be involved.

Action: volunteers for sub-group to approach Chair by end of October.

Next steps

The group were asked to provide feedback on the guidance to the Chair by correspondence by the end of October.  Following this, the guidance will be updated, and a further version circulated to the group.

Action: group to provide feedback on the guidance by end of October.

Date of next meeting

It was suggested the group meet again towards the end of November. A doodle poll will be shared to access availability.

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