Approach to Welsh Government uniform proposals could increase bullying and discrimination according to new research

New research has shown that more than 50% of schools across Wales use uniforms to reduce discrimination and almost a half of schools have a compulsory uniform to prevent bullying.


The findings come as the schoolwear industry has highlighted concerns with new proposals from the Welsh Government which aims to reduce the number of compulsory school branded clothing.


Responding to the Welsh Government’s consultation on school uniform – which closed this week – the Schoolwear Association has argued that the proposals risk undermining equality within schools, drive up prices for parents and make it harder for parents to get the right uniform items they need throughout the year.


Research conducted for the Schoolwear Association has shown that Welsh schools – both primaries and secondaries – recognise the value of school uniforms. It found that:


  • Schools recognise the value of branded items – 60% of schools specify logo’d garments give children a sense of pride with a majority (52%) saying uniform acts a social leveller and 42% saying logo’d uniform prevents bullying.
  • Parents are not demanding change – 87% of schools say parents have not raised concerns over the cost of uniform with them. 
  • Schools have already acted – 60% of Welsh schools have already amended their uniform policy or intend to do so in the next 12 months, to take into account the 2019 Statutory Guidance that required schools to ensure their uniform policies were appropriate and affordable. Where schools have made changes to their uniform policy, the majority have already either reduced the number of logo’d garments or made some logo’d garments optional.


In its response to the Welsh Government’s consultation on its proposals, the Schoolwear Association has highlighted that:


  • Removing logos from school uniforms risks undermining the value of uniform leading towards the prospect of a ‘non-uniform’ policy – making it harder to provide a more cohesive environment and for pupils to have a sense of pride in their school
  • The Welsh Government’s proposals are likely to increase social inequality between pupils, with uniform acting as a ‘leveller’ for all pupils – if these proposals were to be introduced, parents are likely to come under pressure to purchase more expensive designer items
  • Parents are likely to need to purchase items more often, potentially driving up costs rather than reducing them – high quality uniforms offered by specialist retailers are typically more durable and long-lasting offering parents the best long-term value, reducing the need for regular repeat purchases
  • Reforms risk making it harder for parents to be able to get the right uniform they need when they need it, throughout the year – ending sole supplier arrangements is likely to main uniform is not in stock when required, particularly for bespoke sizes


Matthew Easter, Chair of the Schoolwear Association said:This new research makes it clear that school leaders across Wales recognise how vital uniform is, acting as a social leveller, promoting pride and belonging among pupils and reducing bullying.


“Branded uniform items offer best long-term value for families, with high quality and durable items reducing the need for clothes to be regularly replaced.


“We strongly support action to help families with the cost of living, and our members are working closely with schools to reduce costs for parents. However, we are concerned by the potential unintended consequences of these proposed changes, particularly as schools across Wales have already acted. This research should encourage the Welsh Government to reconsider their approach.”


School’s Out Forever: Is It Time to Call It a Day on School Uniform?

School uniform is a staple of the British education system. A variety of brazen blazer colours, tartan skirts, shirts, and striped ties certainly live up to the organisational structure of schools that are represented in movies such as Harry Potter and St Trinian’s.


There’s no formal history of the school uniform; however, it is believed to have originated in 1552 at the Christ’s Hospital School in England. But after 469 years, is it time to finally say goodbye to charcoal trousers and pale blue polos? Should kids be allowed to pick their clothes and show off their personalities?


Here, we reignite the great school uniform debate. We’ll explore why school uniform needs a serious alternative and let you decide whether the school tie should be loosened once and for all.


Uniformity – it’s in the name

The British school uniform is about more than just tradition. Schools maintain a tight dress code for several reasons. Firstly, uniforms prescribe a sense of belonging to an institution, and those who wear a uniform can take pride in an organisation and show respect to their education.


A strict uniform can also convey control and order at a school – a safety net to reduce harassment and bullying. Designer clothing could be seen an ideal which many students could not meet.


Another argument suggests that school uniform is preparing children for the world of work, fashioning them into model citizens that are ready to hit the ground running. But does a monopoly of school uniforms represent real workplaces? In a survey on work attire, only 18 per cent of people said that their company required them to wear a uniform. Meanwhile, 34 per cent could wear casual and 42 per cent could wear smart-casual clothing. The small remainder wore business formal.


It’s clear that casual wear is the prominent choice of attire for many businesses, so why should schools be excluded from doing the same?


The cost of clothing

While smart looking, school uniforms can be heavy on the pockets. According to a government research briefing, compulsory uniforms and sportswear cost an average of £101.19 per pupil. It is suggested that this costs on average £36.24 per pupil per year, as not all items need to be replaced annually. Therefore, if we considered 14 years of education, uniform can cost families £507.36 per pupil. For families on the breadline or with multiple children, is uniform an unnecessary cost that could be avoided?


If families were able to put that money towards casual attire, clothing that is adaptable for inside and outside the classroom, the savings could be in their hundreds. Furthermore, investment clothing that lasts years can be used generationally and beyond school.


Comfort is king

Kids today have had a taste of school without uniform – aside from the odd own-clothes day. The pandemic shifted not only the learning experience outside the classroom, but it also shifted uniform back into the wardrobe. Kids were able to sit through their virtual lessons in clothes they picked themselves.


While being in a classroom has clear benefits for most children, the casual attire of school-from-home did show a side to education we don’t often see: comfort.


Education today is centred around the student experience and what’s best for their learning. That’s why you’ll now see a variety of methods of instruction in the classroom. These include visualisation, cooperative work, and inquiry-based interaction. But uniform, in this sense, is a limiting factor. If children are not comfortable in their learning environment, how can we expect them to learn?


To be truly comfortable in education settings, shouldn’t we allow kids to wear what makes them comfortable — whether that be girls leggings, boys shorts, or a snug hoodie?


Express yourself

Since schools take part in the formative years of a young person’s life, we should be encouraging them to make bold choices and to express themselves. What better way to do that than through clothes?


The rise of social media platform TikTok has put a spotlight on different cultures around the world – perspectives that kids in Britain don’t regularly see. This includes children in the likes of America and Canada, where school uniform is rarely used. Videos under the hashtag “SchoolFit” have racked up close to 80 million views, with stylish individuals showing what they’re wearing to school that day.


Allowing students to choose what they wear is another responsibility that encourages organisational skills. And it doesn’t mean that the clothing will be disrespectful, encouraging clothing that is positive for a working environment may be better practice for future work than prescribing a uniform where no prior thought is required by the student.



As children return to the classroom on a full-time basis, after having a taste of alternative learning, now may be the time to try an alternative to school uniform. No one knows what the ideal learning environment looks like, so experimenting with clothes could be key to unlocking comfortable education where students thrive.