There is no education legislation in Wales specifically covering the wearing of school uniform. Section 21 of the Education Act 2002 places the conduct of a maintained school under the direction of the school’s governing body. The governing body is required to conduct the school with a view to promoting high standards of educational achievement and this may include having a school uniform policy in place which can promote school discipline and ensure that pupils are dressed appropriately for learning activity.
The Welsh Government strongly encourages schools to have a school uniform policy in place as it has many benefits. When introducing a new school uniform policy or considering changes in school uniform requirements, the Welsh Government expects governing bodies to consider equality issues, the wide availability of uniform garments and cost implications to families and to consult widely with parents, pupils and other groups on a new/revised school uniform policy.
Where the governing body of a school has put in place a school uniform policy and/or a policy regarding pupils’ appearance, it is for the head teacher to enforce these policies as part of their overall responsibility for the day-to-day running of the school.
Whilst governing bodies are expected to consider the Welsh Government guidance when introducing or reviewing their school uniform policy, it is non-statutory and the Welsh Government have no powers to enforce it. Decisions relating to school uniform are appropriately for schools and their governing bodies to consider. If parents are not happy with the availability of their child’s school uniform or the cost of purchasing the uniform from a particular supplier, they may raise this concern with the school governing body.
Kirsty Williams, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, has decided to make the guidance statutory in seeking to better support governing bodies in making their decisions on school uniform policies in respect of access, affordability and flexibility. The current guidance is also being updated as it was published in 2011 and some of the factual information is out of date. Changes in the guidance will come into force in September 2019.