MSE News: Schools urged to provide more affordable uniforms

Parents should be able to buy school uniforms at the best possible price, the Competition and Markets Authority says...
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Schools urged to provide more affordable uniforms

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  • WestonDave
    WestonDave Posts: 5,154
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    Whilst I entirely agree with this push, I also feel that to a large extent parents have helped bring this on themselves.


    I agree that this is a problem because I'm currently facing a choice of secondary schools for my kids and in pretty much all cases the majority of the uniform has to come from a certain supplier. What I find ironic is that one of the schools is the same one I went to, with the uniform largely unchanged from when I went there over 20 years ago. The difference however was that whilst we had to buy a school tie and a blazer badge from the specialist supplier (along with a school rugby shirt) now the majority of the uniform is only available from a particular supplier.


    That said, we need to start from the point that a uniform is supposed to be exactly that "uniform" or the same. My kids current primary school allows a greater degree of freedom but that inevitably means that some kids are wearing the branded gold coloured polo shirts whilst some others are wearing pale yellow supermarket own brand ones (with permission). So the uniform isn't uniform any more.


    I'm open to arguments either way - a fully identical uniform does look smart and probably has benefits in terms of pride in appearance leading to pride in school and therefore pride in effort etc. Or having something which is near enough such as we had whereby if you wore dark trousers, a white shirt and a blazer with the badge on it along with the official tie it was near enough. It was close enough to identical to achieve similar results - OK so you'd get the occasional kid with a dark navy blazer rather than dark grey one but it wasn't that obvious.


    However the problem for schools is that a proportion of parents (big enough to cause a problem) take the proverbial. If the school says white shirt under tie, some parents will send their kids in white fashion shirts rather than white school shirts because the kid wants to be "cool", or instead of a formal skirt, some belt like stretch thing that barely covers the backside. So the way round this is to make a list with a specific supplier and insist on it all coming from there - simple to enforce, no arguments that his white Nike shirt is a white school shirt, or her stretch skirt is really knee length etc. (The other problem being that if as in my day you sold blazer badges and got the parents to sew them on a generic shop blazer, half of them wouldn't be able to do it!).


    So whilst I'd support a return to cheaper uniforms it has to be balanced by parents stopping having a whinge when little Chardonnay gets sent home because her "near enough" uniform is clearly not anywhere near the intended school uniform - and start sending their kids in smart school dress.
    Adventure before Dementia!
  • Alikay
    Alikay Posts: 5,147
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    Don't see why any school needs any other uniform (except tie, which shouldn't cost more than £5 anyway) than the standard ones you can buy in any supermarket or department store. black, grey or navy trousers/skirt and red,blue, maroon, navy or green jumpers/sweatshirts along with a plain white shirt should offer sufficient choices for a school to have a recognisable local identity. Schools who go in for unique tartan skirts, expensive braid-edged wool blazers etc are being self-indulgent or elitist, and shouldn't receive state funding IMO.
  • michaels
    michaels Posts: 27,881
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    I agree it is a scandal, problem is it cost sthe schools nothing and it is the children who suffer as theri parents can't aford other opportunities for them as so much money goes on the uniform. Our state primary school 'refreshed' its uniform to another very simlar which meant we had to purchase new uniforms for 3 children (of course every item was from one of two suppliers who had the same prices 2 to 3 times as much as the generic ones) plus all the cared for clothes we had kept to pass down between siblings became useless overnight.

    I have to admit I stopped the 'voluntary' contribution the school asked for per pupil per term, I would much sooner have given the school the 600 quid towards its development fund than having to give the same money to the uniform suppliers but such is life.
    I think....
  • kathrynha
    kathrynha Posts: 2,469
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    One issue is the uniform the supermarkets sell.


    Most secondary schools around here require skirts of a certain length, or trousers that aren't skinny ones, yet the skirts and trousers the supermarkets sell are mainly short/skinny.
    I know supermarkets are businesses and therefore will only sell what customers want, but if there were standard uniform standards then they would have to sell stuff that sticks to the standards.


    In the past uniform was a lot more standard and shops have to compete to get business, so the 10 years ago choice of pleated or straight skirt is now a choice of pleated, straight, skater style, tulip style, A-line, kilt style, lycra, little flower charm on waist band, embroidered butterflies on the hip, etc. which means a standard skirt is no longer standard and uniform.


    The supermarkets need to sell what the schools want the kids to wear, not just what the kids want them to wear.
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  • peachyprice
    peachyprice Posts: 22,346
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    kathrynha wrote: »
    One issue is the uniform the supermarkets sell.


    Most secondary schools around here require skirts of a certain length, or trousers that aren't skinny ones, yet the skirts and trousers the supermarkets sell are mainly short/skinny.
    I know supermarkets are businesses and therefore will only sell what customers want, but if there were standard uniform standards then they would have to sell stuff that sticks to the standards.


    In the past uniform was a lot more standard and shops have to compete to get business, so the 10 years ago choice of pleated or straight skirt is now a choice of pleated, straight, skater style, tulip style, A-line, kilt style, lycra, little flower charm on waist band, embroidered butterflies on the hip, etc. which means a standard skirt is no longer standard and uniform.


    The supermarkets need to sell what the schools want the kids to wear, not just what the kids want them to wear.

    Couldn't agree more. My daughters school skirt can only be bought from a school oufitters or John Lewis. The majority of Supermarket/M&S skirts are 'fashion' skirts in uniform colours which are just not allowed in my daughters school.

    She does have a very distinctive shirt, which I quite like, I wouldn't mind paying the £14 each for those if I could save on the skirt/PE kit.

    Boys seem to have it much better, most are plain white shirts and plain trousers, the supermarkets can manage to ger it right for boys, so why not girls?
    Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence and face your future without fear
  • kathrynha
    kathrynha Posts: 2,469
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    Boys seem to have it much better, most are plain white shirts and plain trousers, the supermarkets can manage to ger it right for boys, so why not girls?

    Definitely worse for girls than boys, but even boys stuff is being stretched now. School shorts now have combat style ones which go against school uniform rules.
    Zebras rock
  • peachyprice
    peachyprice Posts: 22,346
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    kathrynha wrote: »
    Definitely worse for girls than boys, but even boys stuff is being stretched now. School shorts now have combat style ones which go against school uniform rules.

    Mine left 4 years ago so I'm not so much up on the boys stuff now, but that is a shame.
    Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence and face your future without fear
  • kathrynha
    kathrynha Posts: 2,469
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    Not got a boy myself, just a tomboy who was peeved at why boys are allowed any style of shorts of no specified length in summer and she has to wear smart tailored no more than 5cm above the knee shorts according to her schools rules
    Zebras rock
  • I can't see the point of a school uniform full stop. Just wear normal every day clothes and then you get maximum wear out of each garment you buy.
  • VfM4meplse
    VfM4meplse Posts: 34,269
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    I can't see the point of a school uniform full stop. Just wear normal every day clothes and then you get maximum wear out of each garment you buy.
    Its essentially the school's "branding".

    One uniform is a great leveller in the classroom - class divides emerge eventually, but vulnerable children needn't have their noses rubbed in it by being exposed to differences in wealth during school hours. It also provides a sense of belonging / unity, and the identity makes it easy for the school to address bad behaviour outside of the school's boundary.

    Having said that I think the prices are shocking. I remember when I joined my secondary school (31 years ago now!) my dad complained about the cost. We'd just attended an induction session and as a naive 10 yo I helpfully reminded him that grants were available if costs are a problem. Precocious, moi? ;)
    Value-for-money-for-me-puhleeze!

    "No man is worth, crawling on the earth"- adapted from Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

    Hope is not a strategy :D...A child is for life, not just 18 years....Don't get me started on the NHS, because you won't win...I love chaz-ing!
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