Minister Quinn moves to cut school uniform costs

Schools to ballot parents on school uniform policy

The Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn T.D. has moved to tackle the cost of school uniforms by strengthening the role of parents in how schools decide their policies on uniforms.

The education partners will now be invited to engage with Department officials on how to implement this change which will include compiling a template questionnaire that schools can use to consult with parents on uniforms.

All schools that have uniform policies, or are contemplating one, will use this template questionnaire to conduct a ballot among parents to allow them to decide the type of uniform - if any - they want for the 2014/15 school year.

It is envisaged that parents will be asked to vote on a series of options such as:

Do they want a school uniform or not?

If they opt for a uniform do they want trousers, jumpers, blouses, shirts and skirts in colours/shades available in the large retail chains?

Do they want a school blazer, a school crest on garments and what type?

Minister Quinn believes that empowering parents to determine school uniform policy is the most effective way to tackle back to school costs. The Department is also working on developing a Parents Charter that will further strengthen the position of parents generally within the school system.

“Specifically I want all schools that currently operate a uniform policy, or contemplate introducing one, to ballot parents during the current school year before deciding on the policy to be adopted for the 2014/15 school year,” said Minister Quinn. 

“I have consistently said that schools should listen to the parents on this matter since it is parents who incur the costs arising from the decisions that schools make. Balloting all parents should ensure that a school fully captures the views of its parent body,” the Minister added.

The Department will issue the template questionnaire to schools by the end of this month. Schools are expected to complete the ballots by the end of February. This will give Boards of Management adequate time to consider the parents’ wishes and to determine the schools uniform policy for the next school year.