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| 1 minute read

Department for Education publishes guidance on procuring school uniforms

The Department for Education has recently published updated guidance on procuring school uniform supplies. 

The guidance is aimed at school leaders and governing boards and applies when parents buy branded school uniform items. The guidance describes a ‘branded item’ as clothing with distinctive features making it unique to the school and not widely available from most retailers. This is more than just having a school logo or badge; these items tend to be specifically designed for the school and could be unique in colour, design or fabric. 

The guidance sets out principles for schools to consider when tendering for uniform items and includes: 

  • cost and value for money for parents; 
  • how the items will be suitable for the school – considering sustainability and ethical supply chains; 
  • making sure that the procurement process is competitive at the point of selection;  
  • transparency and fairness – making information on the procurement available to all bidders and treating all bidders equally; 
  • accountability and integrity – making sure that everyone involved in the procurement process is responsible for their actions; and
  • sensible timeframes for any changes to the supply of uniforms to avoid creating waste and additional costs to parents. The guidance recommends a 12-18 month timeframe. 

Schools will need to consider how the spend is calculated and who will purchase the items from the supplier, as schools may need to follow the buying procedures and procurement law for schools

Where there is a direct school spend (i.e. the school is buying the items from the supplier) or a combined spend between the school and parents/guardians, schools will need to create an invitation to tender for any above threshold spend (£214,904 including VAT) or make a request for quotation of at least three quotes where the spend is below threshold or where the spend is only made up by the parent/guardian. 

The guidance recommends that schools should consult with industry bodies, research local suppliers and with other schools before issuing an invitation to tender. These discussions can help schools develop specifications and become more informed about lower-cost choices for fabric or design. 

The guidance is accompanied by template documents, including an invitation to tender, a request for quotation and a pricing schedule. There are no template contracts available for procurements for parent/guardian spending only. However, schools can consider using the Cabinet Office and Government Legal Department template short-form or mid-tier contract where the procurement is for a school or combined spend.   

Click here to read the full guidance. 


education, school governors, academies, contracts, public procurement, dfe, schools, local government