Does my child legally have to wear uniform and can the school send them home if they don't?

Most schools in the UK have a uniform or dress code
Most schools in the UK have a uniform or dress code -Credit:Andrew James

Most schools in the UK have some kind of uniform or dress code, and are pretty strict about enforcing it.

Uniforms can reduce peer pressure and help children feel more settled, but there have been many instances where pupils have been sent home for failing to adhere to the rules. Kids can often be pulled up for not having the correct footwear, for wearing jewellery, or for having certain hairstyles.

But what is the law around school uniforms? And what can schools actually do if a student doesn't stick to its dress code rules?

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The Department for Education (DfE) says all schools are able to set their own individual policies - including potentially deciding they don't want a uniform. The policy should "make it fair for all".

A DfE article on continues: "We believe uniforms provide a sense of belonging for students. They are helpful in fostering a good learning environment and can promote the ethos of a school."

Legally, it is a "bit of a grey area", according to Carter Bells solicitors. Schools can discipline children who don't adhere to uniform rules, but the punishment must be "appropriate".

Experts added: "Legal experts are adamant that any punishment a school hands out for uniform or dress code breaches should be in line with a published behaviour or uniform policy. So, put simply, the school can’t simply start dishing out punishments for uniform infringements if their published behaviour or uniform guidelines don’t specify what constitutes a breach, and what the resulting punishment will be.

"A headteacher is within their rights to ask a pupil to return home to rectify the infringement, but again the school needs to consider if this action is appropriate, depending on a number of factors such as the child’s age, their vulnerability, and just how easy it really is to ‘pop home and change’."

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