Updates to school uniform policy and guidance by the end of the year, Scrutiny hears
29th September 2023
The Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel questioned the Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Inna Gardiner, in a Quarterly Public Hearing on Thursday 28 September.
The Panel questioned the Minister about the work underway to review the policy for school uniforms, in response to recommendations made by the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority (JCRA) in April 2023. The Minister confirmed that the Government's response to the report was in progress, but that she had accepted a recommendation from the JCRA and was engaging with uniform suppliers and the Chamber of Commerce in relation to this matter.
The Minister advised that a survey to gather public opinion would be published next week and that it was intended to gather feedback and insights from parents and the public about school uniforms.
The Minister anticipated that any changes to uniform policy - for example, reducing the number of branded items - would not be immediate and would be implemented over a number of years. It was stated that the ultimate objective of any changes would be to reduce the cost of school uniforms for parents.
When asked about support for those facing difficulties in affording school uniform, the Minister stated that Jersey Premium support funding could be accessed by headteachers and put towards the purchase of school uniform items if needed.
In response to Panel queries, the Minister acknowledged the importance of maintaining clear communications with uniform suppliers, schools, and the public. It was confirmed that the policy for the school year commencing September 2024 would be published by the end of 2023 at the latest.
The Panel was also informed that:
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is continuing to develop their Early Intervention Service in order to provide support sooner through schools. The Panel was pleased to hear that this work aims to reduce referrals in the future.
- The Minister does not believe that reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) has been used for school buildings on the Island but is seeking 100% assurance of this and expects a report by the end of October.
- Regarding risk management in school buildings, following reports of serious risks over the summer, the Minister provided confirmation that there are currently no identified "intolerable risks". An intolerable risk was defined as a number of factors which could collectively pose a risk to life in the event of a fire.
Deputy Catherine Curtis, Chair of the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel commented:
"The Panel feels that more clarity is needed around the support available to parents who are experiencing difficulties in paying for school uniforms. During the hearing, the Minister stated that headteachers have access to funding that can be used to support the purchase of school uniforms where necessary. This differs from other information that the Panel has been made aware of - since the cost of uniforms can be a real cause of concern for parents and guardians, we would welcome publication of clearer guidance from the Minister around where and how help can be accessed by those who need it."
A full recording of the hearing can be accessed here.
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