Consider allowing pupils to wear additional clothing indoors, DfE tells schools

Schools should consider allowing pupils to wear “additional, suitable indoor items of clothing” during the winter as classrooms get colder because of the need for ventilation, the Department for Education has said.

In updated action for schools guidance published today, the DfE said increased ventilation “may make school buildings cooler than usual over the winter months”.

In a section on school uniform, the guidance states that “while schools will want to maintain the benefits of their uniform, they may wish to consider allowing additional, suitable indoor items of clothing to be worn during the winter period in addition to the school’s current uniform”.

“Where this occurs, schools should ensure that no extra financial pressure is placed on parents,” the guidance adds.

The guidance has also added a line on ventilation to the “system of controls” that schools must have in place to prevent and deal with coronavirus outbreaks.

The document states that schools should “always keeping occupied spaces well ventilated”, and that this approach “must be in place in all schools, all the time”.

It follows calls earlier this month for practical advice for schools on how to handle the winter months, after staff reported that their classrooms had already become cold.

Existing guidance on ventilation by Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), which is linked to on the HSE website, says draughts from open windows can be mitigated by moving desks and wearing “warmer fleeces”. 

The DfE has also removed a line from a section of the guidance on workforce, which previously stated that Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care “advise that schools are not currently considered high risk settings when compared to other workplace environments”.

It follows recent rises in the number of outbreaks in schools, and comes as new attendance data showed almost half of secondary schools have pupils self-isolating.

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  1. What would we do without their guidance. Inspired. Many knock the Nanny State. At times like this though I wonder where we would be without our Whitehall Masters. I shall seriously consider this.

    • Mark Watson

      I for one welcome our Whitehall Masters stating the blooming obvious. Without this type of guidance I might well have frozen to death whilst wearing a t-shirt in the snow …

  2. I love how the advice offered was to ‘move desks’. Move then where?!? Classrooms already aren’t big enough for the ever rising number of pupils teachers are expected to teach, let alone without the impossible socially distanced desk aspect. The only place my tables could move would be out into the street!

  3. Kathryn

    1 How do the government propose that schools do not place an extra financial burden on parents when they require children to wear additional warm clothing – those who can least afford it are probably the families who don’t already have a supply of fleeces and warm clothes.

    2. Given classrooms are already short of space, where do the govt propose desks should be moved to? Especially as this will reduce the ability to social distance within the classroom.

  4. Janet Downs

    There are some schools which don’t allow pupils to remove blazers in hot weather unless given permission from the top. How likely is it, then, that such schools will mandate style and colour of extra clothing? I wait with interest for the first publication of constrictions which cover the size of bobble on hats (or no bobble at all) and insist any beanie has the school logo.

  5. Linda Wilcox

    I have grand children in 3 different schools and my son is a single Dad, one of the children is Autistic, I think it is extremely difficult not only for him but for thousands of other parents in this current, very difficult time to ensure they have clean clothing every day, I therefore think that schools should allow ALL children and parents to choose whether a uniform is a necessity or can it be they would be better wearing clean non uniform daily, providing of course it was suitable for that environment.

  6. Christopher Smith

    This is the only country in mainland Europe at least that allows its State Schools to prioritise uniform over learning. The DfE’s guidance is cynical. Until the DfE instructs all State Schools to grant a uniform opt-out, this HR violation will persist. So long as pupils dress reasonably, why should they be denied their education in Britain but not in other countries? Can you answer that, Parliament? What is more important, education or uniform? We know what you will say. So make it voluntary. Why this persists is a separate issue.

    • Mark Watson

      No reference to colluding courts and state sponsored blackmail this time?

      Every time you talk about uniforms you refer to us being the “only country … that allows its State Schools to prioritise uniform over learning”. I know it’s a good line, but it’s just patently ridiculous.

      Firstly there is no school, local authority, academy trust, civil servant, or Government official (of any political hue) who would say our system allows any educational institution to prioritise uniform over learning. You are presumably basing your assertion on the various stories of pupils being sent home for wearing the ‘wrong shoes’ etc. Whilst not necessarily agreeing with the schools, I would bet that in every instance they took the position they did because they believed it would improve learning.

      Secondly, if a pupil turned up to a school in Germany wearing a neo-nazi jacket, or a French pupil turned up in a t-shirt glorifying the recent killing of a teacher, I’d be prepared to wager a large sum they would be sent home. So does this count as prioritising clothes over learning? And if you come back with a comment about “reasonable clothes” who gets to decide what’s reasonable? Does a faith school get to set a different standard to an inner-city non-faith school?

      And forgive me if things have changed, but didn’t the French ban pupils from wearing the hijab, as well as any other religious symbols? So that’s properly legally-enforced prioritisation of secularism over learning.

  7. ann sadler

    My daughter who is a TA is already getting cold at work as are the pupils. Surely uniform rules should be relaxed until this pandemic is gone. Also why are masks at all times unless outside not made mandatory.? Visors are no good and for special needs window masks can be either purchased or people like myself are making and donating although the government should supply these free of charge

  8. J Andrews

    There will surely come a point where, even with “additional suitable clothing” it will be too cold to teach and learn effectively with the windows open. And that is without considering the astronomical costs of trying to heat schools in this situation. If we have even a moderately severe winter it will become utterly impossible.