Parents forced into debt to pay for school uniforms
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Thursday 15 August 2013
Parents are being forced to fork out hundreds of pound to kit out their children for attending state schools, according to a survey out today.
The average cost for kitting out a primary school pupil is now £156 - including uniforms, coats and bags - and £285 for a secondary school.
According to the charity Family Action, which carried out the survey, the cost has increased as the number of flagship academies and free schools increases.
The charity points out that this means parents on the poverty line are being forced to spend up to two-fifths of their income in August on back-to-school costs.
“Many schools use the transition to academy status as an opportunity for rebranding - which often includes changing the uniform,” says their report, The Big Stitch Up. “Although some headteachers will argue that rebranding a school can have a positive effect, it can also result in parents having to pay a significant penalty in back-to-school costs.”
The survey of 13 state schools - 10 secondary and three primary - unearthed one example of an academy where 70 per cent of parents had to take out loans to pay for the new £225 uniform. The previous uniform for the old school had cost £99.
The charity is urging schools to scrap specially branded school uniforms let parents shop around for plan, standard clothing from a retailer of their choice.
The report adds that local authority school uniform grants are now a “postcode lottery” - with several offering nothing at all in the way of help for parents.
Advice from the Department for Education says schools should “make certain that the uniform chosen is affordable and does not act as a barrier to parents when choosing a school”.
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