Expensive uniforms could be banned and save parents hundreds of pounds

A law being proposed by an MP could ban expensive branded school uniforms

Southfield School for Girls has the most expensive uniform in the area
Southfield School for Girls has the most expensive uniform in the area

A law being proposed by a Labour MP could see expensive branded school uniforms banned if it gets approved by Parliament.

Labour MP for Weaver Vale, Cheshire, Mike Amesbury, has proposed that schools could only specify basic items of uniform and not their style.

Branded uniforms that can only be purchased from suppliers rather than a range of shops have been blamed for the increasing costs of school uniforms, leaving many parents out of pocket.

These often cost more than cheaper generic school wear available on the high street and in supermarkets and the expense can really add up when parents understandably want to buy more than one item in case of mid-week washes.

Compulsory branded uniform normally includes items like blazers, jumpers, and PE kit and not items that can be bought elsewhere, like shirts and school shoes.

However some schools are now including logo-branded skirts and trousers in their uniform lists which can make uniform more expensive for parents.

Secondary schools in Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough

Southfield School for Girls in Kettering has the most expensive uniform in the area, with one item each of the branded blazer, skirt, trousers and jumper costing between £80.50 and £89.50.

When the branded PE kit is included too, parents will spent between £140.50 and £161.50 and will still need to purchase school shirts, shoes, a coat and PE trainers at least.

Southfield School has not responded to a request for comment on the issue of school uniform cost.

The uniform at Montsaye Academy in Rothwell is also expensive, with a blazer, trousers, skirt, and tie that has to be bought from the school supplier. A jumper is optional, but if pupils want to wear one it has to be from the school supplier too.

This will cost parents between £87.00 to £100 for girls and £74.50 to £84.75 for boys for one of each item, before the school branded PE kit is added, which takes the cost to a minimum of £100 for boys and £116.50 for boys.

The difference comes differences in PE kit for boys and girls and from the added expense of buying a branded skirt in addition to the trousers for girls, who may want to choose to wear a skirt, particularly in summer.

Montsaye Academy has not responded to a request for comment.

Some schools are allowing parents to buy school trousers for boys and girls from anywhere, but if girls wish to wear a skirt, they need to purchase a school specific one from a nominated supplier.

This is the case at Kettering Science Academy, where trousers can be bought from anywhere but skirts need to be from the supplier.

The school skirts cost between £15.95 and £18.95, considerably more expensive than generic school wear available on the high street and an extra cost for parents of daughters who may want to wear skirts.

Kettering Science Academy is part of the Brooke Weston Trust, which said: "Our schools set their own uniform criteria and nearly half have reviewed their supplier over the last 18 months with value for money, quality and durability being taken into account when sourcing uniforms.

"These reviews have taken place with reference to current published guidance."

The trust have also recently introduced a new style blazer at Corby Technical School, which costs between £28 and £34, whereas the old style blazer was £15.

The most affordable school

The most affordable school uniform in the area is at Wrenn School, Wellingborough, where the compulsory uniform is a tie and a blazer with the school logo, although parents can choose to buy the badge and sew this onto a generic school wear blazer.

A spokesman for Wrenn School said: "At Wrenn, we are mindful that school uniform is often an expense some families cannot afford.

"We do believe however that uniform is an important part of a school community, students feel proud when they look smart and everyone is the same, there is no pressure to dress a certain way.

"When students joins us in year 7, we give them a blazer (with embroidered logo) and a school tie free of charge- every student gets this."

Wrenn School also has a PE uniform but this is only a top and shorts or a skirt for girls, with a maximum price of £13.45 for a top and £12.95 for the most expensive bottom choice.

The school said: "All other uniform, white shirt, black trousers/skirt, black socks, black shoes can be purchased wherever the parents want to.

"We have found by allowing parents to find cheaper school trousers and shirts themselves, our students look smarter for longer! It also places too much pressure on parents if they are limited to one or two shirts or pairs of trousers, getting them washed and ready to wear again is not always possible.

"Uniform should be affordable, there should be no barriers for families to access education."

What do you think? Is uniform too expensive or is it a cost parents have to factor in? If you have any thoughts or have struggled to afford your child's school uniform, get in touch with us at [email protected] or via our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.