The wearing of a school uniform is not governed by legislation but falls to schools to determine.
School uniform policy
School governors decide the policy on uniform policy and it is the principal's responsibility to make sure pupils keep to the rules.
Schools should ensure that their school uniform policy is both fair and reasonable and that the school uniform itself is practical, comfortable and appropriate and represents value for money for families.
To assist schools the Department of Education has issued guidance on school uniform policy.
Cost of school uniform
All schools are expected to give high priority to the cost of uniforms. Families should not feel excluded from being able to select a particular school because of the cost of a uniform.
Schools should consult parents for their views and concerns before changing, or deciding on a new uniform policy.
Grants to help with buying school uniforms for certain categories of pupils are available from education and library boards. Who qualifies for a grant is decided in a similar way to free school meals.
Schools can help with costs by ensuring that their uniform is widely available in high street shops and other retail outlets, and internet suppliers rather than from a sole supplier.
Help with clothing costs
Families who are on benefits or on low income, could be entitled to clothing grants. You can get more details on the School uniform grant page.
Physical education (PE)
School uniform often includes clothing required for PE lessons. Schools should choose kit that is practical, comfortable and appropriate to the activity. Sex and race issues must be considered.
Schools are expected to consider cost to parents when choosing PE kit.
Breaking uniform policy
Schools should be considerate if a pupil does not keep to the uniform policy and try to find out why it is happening. If a family is having financial difficulties, the school should allow for this and give the parents time to buy the right items.
Pupils should not be made to feel uncomfortable if their parents cannot provide them with the right uniform.
Schools must consider the needs of different cultures, races and religions. They must always act reasonably and sensibly towards religious requirements, providing they do not pose a threat to security, safety and learning, or compromise the well-being of the school community.
Schools must not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation or belief.
Travel to school
Schools should be aware of the need to encourage children to walk and cycle to school. However, the safety of children is vital. School governors should take this into account when designing their uniform and consider the use of reflective materials and encourage the wearing of high visibility items.
Additional information about walking and cycling to school more safely is available on the school transport page.