Parents to vote on whether they want school uniforms scrapped
Parents are to vote on whether they want their schools to have a uniform – and if so, what type.
A move announced by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn today is designed to give parents a greater say over the issue – with a view to controlling back to school costs.
He wants schools that have uniform policies, or are contemplating one to ballot parents between the end of this month and the end of February.
The ballot will be part of a wider dialogue between his department and the education partners - parents, school managers and teacher union – on tackling the issue.
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?
He wants any changes to uniform policy implemented in the next school year, starting September 2014.
“I’m not proposing that school uniform policy should be changed to the point that additional costs will be added,” said Minister Quinn on RTE New’s at One today.
“What I’m suggesting is a ballot no later than February to enable any changes that might be contemplated.
“This is really just listening to parents and the representatives of parents such as Barnardos and St Vincent de Paul who have brought to my attention over the last two years since I became minster, costs of which they feel they have no control and costs which they feel are excessive.
The Minister went on to say that: “We will speak to all the representatives in various schools. We have around 4,000 schools - 3,250 primary schools and 750 post primary schools.
Mr Quinn said he believed that empowering parents to determine school uniform policy was the most effective way to tackle back to school costs
“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”.
In recent months, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore pushed strongly for an initiative on uniforms to help reduce costs.
The department will issue the template questionnaire to schools by the end of this month.
By Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor