School uniform and uniform grants

The wearing of a school uniform is for schools to determine. School governors decide the uniform policy and it is the principal's responsibility to make sure pupils keep to the rules. Grants to help with buying school uniforms for certain categories of pupils are available with the eligibility criteria similar to those used for free school meals.

School uniform policy

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.

Please Note: This scheme is for parents in Northern Ireland only

Grants to help with buying school uniforms for certain categories of pupils are available from the Education Authority (EA) in your region. 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.

How to apply for grant?

The Clothing Allowance Scheme covers pupils in primary, post-primary and special schools. It does not apply to pupils in attendance at nursery schools, nursery units or reception classes.

The level of assistance is as follows:

  • primary school - £35.75
  • post-primary/special school under 15 - £51
  • post-primary/special school over 15 - £56
  • post-primary/special school PE - £22

Only one clothing allowance per pupil will normally be paid during the school year.

The EA is responsible for the administration of the scheme. Additional information including eligibility criteria and application forms are available by telephoning the EA in your region at the relevant contact number below.

  • Education Authority Belfast Region – 028 9056 4239 or 028 9056 4240
  • Education Authority North Eastern Region – 028 2566 2571, 028 2566 2572 or 028 2566 2573
  • Education Authority South Eastern Region – 028 9056 6319
  • Education Authority Southern Region – 028 3751 2523
  • Education Authority Western Region – 028 8241 1496

The eligibility criteria are similar to those used for free school meals and this information can be found here:

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 parents cannot provide them with the right uniform.

Human rights

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.

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