NORTHWICH MP Mike Amesbury has hailed the news his private members bill to slash the cost of school uniform has become law as 'a great day'.

It is the first bill the Labour politician has managed to progress through the extensive legislative process, with the covid pandemic bringing unexpected and added complications ensuring it was 'a long and bumpy ride'.

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The Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill made it through its final reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday (April 28) before being given Royal Assent the following day, which was the last sitting of the current parliamentary session.

Speaking exclusively to the Guardian he said: "It means the government must introduce new, legally binding guidance for schools on the cost of school uniforms in England.

"Families from across the country have told me about how they've struggled to afford the cost of sending their children to school in the right uniform.

"School uniform of course can be a great social leveller in our classrooms.

"But children whose families can't afford expensive uniforms can face isolation and in some cases even exclusion for not wearing the rights clothes.

"Thanks to Covid its been a long and bumpy journey to get this bill through Parliament.

"But with the backing of members from across the political spectrum this common sense piece of legislation will now be able to help hard pressed families across England."

How the cause and the bill went from a parental concern to legislation

The Weaver Vale MP first became involved in the subject after being contacted by many of his own concerned constituents and described the good fortune at being drawn first in the ballot for Private Members' Bills back in January 2020.

The ballot gives MPs the chance to be one of the first 20 to introduce a Private Members' Bill on a subject of their choice during the impending session.

Those drawn higher in the ballot are more likely to get time to debate their Bill and therefore their Bills will have a higher chance of becoming law.

"It didn't dawn on me the enormity of that at the time," he said.

"Child poverty is something I'm very passionate about, so to be drawn number one in the ballot, offered up a real opportunity to make a difference.

"There are some schools out there with some great headteachers and governors and parents groups keeping branded materials to a minimum.

"The bill will reinforce that approach to being inclusive about school uniforms, making it statutory rather than voluntary.

"When you're listening to parents up and down the country some are having to make school choices on the cost of the uniform which is just not right, it's not fair and it's not just.

"Children should be able to go to their local school based on their ability, not their ability to pay."

The MP explains how his own education and upbringing played a role

Mr Amesbury went to a non-uniform wearing secondary school himself and experienced first hand the cruel difference in those who were able to afford the latest fashions and those that couldn't.

"There's been some interesting opponents of this bill that have peddled the line that this is a slippery slope to the abolishment of school uniforms," he explained.

"It's far from it.

"I personally went to a secondary school that didn't have a school uniform and it really highlighted the children who could afford the latest fashions and those who couldn't.

"The purpose of the bill is to keep branded items to a minimum and putting affordability to the centre stage.

"The fact it is now statutory puts it on a legal footing so for example if parents or carers think a school uniform policy is unfair, they've got the strength of the law to now take that matter on."

The scheme to lower the cost of uniforms across the country was backed and supported by The Children's Society, who Mr Amesbury felt moved to thank.

"I'd like to offer my big thanks to everyone involved in the campaign.

"From the Children's Society, the National Education Union and head teachers from up and down the country.

"But very importantly, children and families who've raised this issue for years now and who have directly shaped what this new guidance and law will look like."