The dreaded first week back in school has come to an end, we’ve survived and now we return to the weekly task of washing that school uniform and getting it ready for the following week. Personally, I’m a fan o school uniform, as a mother to a 6 year old fashionista, having to wear that uniform means a lot less drama 5 mornings a week!
The School Uniform has led to many an interesting debate over the years, as it became more comfortable and more affordable and less formal in some schools, and as parents and pupils ask for gender neutral uniforms. The cost has always been a heated debate too.
Back in November, Kirsty Williams; Cabinet Secretary for Education, launched a new consultation in order to collect the opinions of pupils and parents about the school uniforms in Wales. The plan is to develop a policy which makes the school uniform more affordable and gender neutral. If you haven’t completed the online survey, don’t worry, it’s open until the 21st of February.
In order to get a bit more information about the consultation, Mam Cymru organised an interview with Kirsty Williams;
First of all, what’s triggered this consultation?
I have always believed that schools could do more to keep the cost of school uniform down, and earlier this year I decided that the best way forward would be to introduce a new statutory guidance on school uniforms, alongside extra funding to support those families that need it.
The existing guidance available for schools was not up to date, and contained outdated information and terms which did not reflects developments made in relation to the guidance over last few years. The current guidance referred directly to males and females, the new guidance will refer to different sex/gender groups, and will include rights in terms of a child’s right to gender identity and expression; all definitions and terms that have developed significantly in recent years .
It is essential that our guidance is updated to reflect modern times, and by consulting with parents and pupils across Wales, we’ll ensure that the new guidance is reflective of their views and concerns.
Is this consultation exclusive to Wales?
Yes, this consultation only concerns schools in Wales. To my knowledge, there are no similar consultations ongoing anywhere else in the UK, and the guidance offered by the English Department of Education non-statuary.
Wales is leading the way by bringing in statutory guidance, which will help ensure that all schools in Wales follow the same principle whilst designing their uniform and appearance policies, making them affordable, inclusive and fair.
How important is it that parents and pupils in Wales share their views and take part?
Issues surrounding school uniforms affect parents and pupils on a daily basis, and so I would like to encourage all parents and pupils in Wales to complete the consultation. This is your chance to let us know what you think of what is being proposed in the new statutory guidance, as well as any views or opinions you may have on school uniforms.
Every response provided will be counted and considered, and a summary report of responses will be published on the Welsh Government website after the consultation is closed. We have also produced a child friendly version of the consultation, to ensure that pupils in our schools have the chance to have their say on school uniforms.
Mam Cymru would like to thank Kirsty Williams for the interview. Go ahead and complete that questionnaire and get the kids involved too! In the meantime, good luck with that washing and ironing!
By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru