Families forced to shell-out needlessly for new uniforms

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The introduction of new school uniforms when schools convert to academy status is forcing parents to needlessly shell-out hundreds of pounds, it has been claimed.

The latest figures show that almost 300 schools converted to academy status at the start of this term, with at least another 100 planning to convert mid-year, and the Local Government Association (LGA) says many are bringing in new uniforms.

Quoting figures from the charity Family Action’s 2013 report, The Big Stitch-Up, the LGA emphasised that new uniforms can cost an average of £161 for boys at secondary school and £156 for girls. An average primary uniform costs £113. If you include other expenses such as coats, bags and stationery, the average back-to-school cost is £156 for a primary child and £285 for a secondary pupil.

The LGA, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, has now urged schools and their governors to ease this financial burden by coming up ways for pupils to keep their existing uniforms. It suggests that items such as blazers could be generic, so that parents only need to buy a badge or emblem to attach. Items such as PE kit and school bags also need not have a school badge or logo, it says.

It also suggests that schools keep similar colour schemes and allow parents to buy new items gradually, rather than all at once.

Cllr Nick Forbes, vice-chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, called for a “common sense approach to uniform policies”.

He explained: “Hundreds of schools are becoming academies every year and many choose to mark this change, but headteachers and governing bodies should think about the costs a new uniform can have on mums and dads.

“Parents already do what they can to cut the cost of school uniform, such as buying items of uniform throughout the year, passing clothes between children, shopping around to get the best deal and buying plain items they can sew badges onto, but the introduction of a new uniform can mean families are faced with having to pay hundreds of pounds all at once, to replace clothes which there is nothing wrong with.”

Download Family Action’s report, The Big Stitch-Up, at http://bit.ly/1rnwzT1


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