Cost and Affordability of school uniform and child poverty

Rachel Shanks* (Corresponding Author), Stephen J. McKinney

*Corresponding author for this work

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Although there are no attendance or registration fees in the UK for publicly funded school education there are hidden costs in attending compulsory education. This article investigates one of the hidden costs: school uniform. We investigate the affordability of school uniform in Scotland, looking at what is required in school uniform policy (class uniform and Physical Education kit), the costs of uniform and to what extent the national minimum clothing grant
makes uniform affordable for households on low incomes. For this research we use a unique national dataset of the school uniform policies of all 357 publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland and responses to Freedom of Information requests sent to all local authorities (n=30). From analysis of the uniform policies and the requirements and application processes for the national minimum clothing grant we are able to draw together recommendations for the
Scottish Government, local authorities and schools. We also found a compelling need for detailed data collection on how much it costs to clothe children for a whole school year.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalScottish Educational Review
Issue number1
Early online date20 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

OA via the Brill Agreement


  • dress code
  • poverty
  • school uniform
  • social justice


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