Pupils in North Ayrshire will no longer be required to wear badged or branded school uniforms - with a focus on school colours instead - as part of ambitious proposals to end the cost of a school day for parents and carers.

It comes after the council’s cabinet approved plans to invest £500,000 to tackle poverty and reduce the cost and barriers for families taking children to school.

Councillor Robert Foster, cabinet member for the health and social care partnership, who led a working group of councillors, council staff, pupils, parents and teachers, said: “There is a cost attached to going to school and sometimes that cost is too high and struggling families are forced to make difficult choices.

“If we as a local authority can alleviate that pressure for parents and carers then we should.”

£100,000 will be spent on a clothing and sustainability fund to promote an environmental approach to uniform recycling and provide uniform, sports kit and outdoor wear for any family that needs assistance.

Pupils will no longer be required to wear badged or branded uniforms and instead there will be a focus on school colours to allow a choice of cheaper school wear - for example parents will now be able to buy jumpers and polo shirts without the school's badge.

Cllr. Foster said: "Parents will no longer be required to buy badged or school branded uniforms from the next academic year. They can if they want to - it is their choice - but it gives them an option to buy chepaer uniforms with a focus on school colours."  

The council will also subsidise blazers for senior phase pupils, provide a school tie to all S1s and provide school bags, water bottles and stationery where required to take the pressure off struggling families.

Half of the fund (£250,000) has been earmarked to promote digital inclusion with 1,000 families in the region set to receive laptops/ tablets for learning.

Cllr. Foster said: “Digital exclusion has always been an issue but the pandemic has exacerbated it and shown that access to the internet and devices is a necessity.”

The other £150,000 will go towards school/community food initiatives with Cllr. Foster saying “no child should be hungry at school or going home hungry”.

The agreed plans also stated that there would be a clear statement to parents and carers that no gifts are to be given to teachers or staff while alternatives to cash donations and dress down days will also be discussed.

Cllr Foster said: “We will send a clear statement that no members of school staff need gifts.

“Instead we should encourage kids to make their own cards or give staff a piece of their own artwork.

“We will also take a different approach to fundraising and dress down days.

“No family should be expected to pay for their child to go to school.”

He added: “This is just the start but I believe that this work will make a real difference to support families in a dignified way.”