Schoolwear Association issues guidance following new rules for schools on uniform

The Schoolwear Association has issued guidance to its members about potentially dramatic changes to the school uniform supply chain.

Following The Department for Education’s (DfE) announcement that its School Uniform Guidelines are becoming statutory, the association is advising all those involved with any part of the school uniform market to make themselves aware of the changes.

The statutory guidelines, which are expected to be in place by the end of next year, will require schools to undertake tendering before selecting suppliers for school-specific uniform. The announcement that the previous guidelines would no longer be optional has led to a rush of enquiries from schools to the association about how to respond.

David Burgess, chairman of the Schoolwear Association, said: “Although we believe that schools generally make sensible and pragmatic decisions about supply, price and the balance of school uniform, we welcome the changes as we believe they will create greater certainty for schools. However, this will have an impact on the industry, and we are advising members to contact us to ensure they prepare efficiently.”

The Schoolwear Association anticipates one effect of the statutory guidelines is that schools will take more control over who supplies with more schools trademarking their badges as a part of the tender process.

Mr Burgess said the schoolwear industry was already a highly competitive marketplace but that schools and suppliers needed to be aware of areas that might be seen as anti-competitive.

He added: “The Competition and Markets Authority has said it will monitor the effect of the rules to ensure that schools and suppliers comply with Competition Law. It is important that the industry responds to this, and as an association we have promised our cooperation with the CMA.”

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