Uniform stops 'footwear competitiveness', says Hinds

Education secretary says a strict school uniform policy can be an 'important leveller' for disadvantaged pupils

Tes Reporter

School uniform's 'unnecessary fripperies' blamed for pricing out poor families

Schools are right to implement strict uniform policies that clamp down on "footwear competitiveness", the education secretary has said.

Speaking at the Education World Forum in London today, Damian Hinds described uniform as an "important leveller" for disadvantaged students.

He was asked whether stringent policies should be in place to help poor children who go to school to find their classmates wearing designer shoes or coats.

Mr Hinds said: "Uniform itself is an important leveller and I think it does play a really important role in that sense.

"Schools, of course, can, and in some cases do, have rules to make sure that you don't get some of the kind of 'footwear competitiveness' - more likely to be trainers I think, than black school shoes.

"Whatever policy a school individually sets, I think for someone in my role the most important thing is to support them whenever they are doing that in a reasonable way."

School uniforms 'help to prevent poverty shaming'

Mr Hinds was speaking after addressing world leaders in education, telling them he had made narrowing the attainment gap and targeting the most disadvantaged a "top priority".

In November, it was reported that Woodchurch High School in Birkenhead had banned pupils from wearing expensive designer coats in an attempt to stop poverty shaming.

The education secretary also commented on proposals announced by Ofsted last week to focus more on classroom behaviour during inspections.

Asked what role parents had to play in their child's behaviour at school, he said that what happens at school and at home are "intrinsically linked".

Mr Hinds added: "I welcome the new Ofsted framework – the focus on behaviour is really important.

"You survey teachers on their long-term plans, and we know that workload is a big issue for teachers, but behaviour is one thing that comes up quite a lot as well.

"So making sure that teachers are fully supported is absolutely vital."

Saying that every family is different, he continued: "But what I would say is it is a shared responsibility, children's behaviour.

"It's important that teachers back up parents but also parents back up teachers."

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