DS1’s secondary school requires the children to wear black coats and bags, in addition to black trousers, shoes and socks.
I believe this makes it harder for the children to be seen by drivers and increases their risk of being involved in road accidents. I don’t think this uniform policy is unusual – I know that some other local schools also require dark coats and bags, and I think this is probably not uncommon in the UK.
The Highway Code says “Help other road users to see you. Wear or carry something light-coloured, bright or fluorescent in poor daylight conditions.” In 2010, the Department for Transport encouraged children to “wear brightly coloured or fluorescent clothing which shows up well in daylight and at dusk.”
School uniform policies are making it difficult for children to follow the Highway Code and the Department of Transport’s advice.
Many families will not buy their children more than one winter coat, so the dark coat will be worn by children not only on school days but on weekends and holidays too. I’m aware that hi-vis jackets can be worn over coats, but I think teenagers are unlikely to wear those.
Prior to COVID I had started to explore solutions to this issue and I’m recording here where I’d got to with a view to restarting my campaign.
I contacted the relevant government minister via my MP and received the following response from the Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP:
“I am replying as the Minister of State for School Standards. As you may be aware, it is for the governing body of a school, or academy trust in the case of academies, to decide their school’s uniform policy. The Department has published non-statutory guidance on school uniform to help support schools when developing their policy.
While the non-statutory guidance on school uniform does not explicitly state that governing bodies should take the visibility of children travelling to and from school into account when formulating their uniform policy, it does not prohibit them from doing so should they feel that it is a valuable consideration given their specific circumstances. As school uniform is set by the school’s governing body, Ms Lynes may wish to share her thoughts about the visibility of her child’s uniform with her child’s school in the first instance.
Our guidance on school uniform recommends that when making changes to their policies, school leaders should take into account the views of parents and pupils. The guidance is available at: tinyurl.com/PQcLGkh.”
I had the following reply from Modeshift Stars:
“Thank you for contacting the Modeshift STARS team. Unfortunately we only have very limited resources in the central STARS Team so are limited to working directly with local authorities. Further, the Modeshift STARS scheme only applies to schools outside of London at this moment in time. We do however include Be Bright Be Seen activities as part of our range of initiatives that schools can deliver in order to achieve STARS accreditation.
For further support in providing guidance to your school we would encourage you to contact the following:
I had the following reply from Brake, the Road Safety Charity:
“Unfortunately, promoting wearing bright clothing isn’t something that we actively promote. As important as it can be towards road safety, we tend to focus on creating healthy and safe journeys to and from school.
We do work closely with Brightkidz though, who are about the obvious ‘bright’ aspect, but also about being bright (smart).
They have a ‘Be Bright Be Seen’ imitative https://brightkidz.co.uk/initi
And also sell packs of reflectors.”
I tweeted about it and had a reply from Brightkidz:
Very good question. I’ve not heard of any successful examples but every now and then this has been an issue raised in the press by parents for a particularly school.
— Brightwayz (@BrightwayzUK) January 23, 2020
Also this reply:
Not personally and depends on all facts to consider but always good to include cyp to lead the discussion with school
— Penny Greenwood, UKPHR DS, SCPHN, RGN,QN (@Greenwoodpj) January 24, 2020
That’s all the correspondence I can find now. As far as I know the issues haven’t changed but I will consider next steps and update further as I develop a plan.
Do comment below or contact me if you have any ideas or info to share relating to this issue.
Update to this post: School uniform and road safety part 2
Updated DfE guidance from June 2023: Guidance: school uniforms