The rising cost of school uniforms risks "breaking the bank" for poorer families as more state schools demand costly branded items and local authorities cut clothing grants, a new report warns.
With millions of children preparing to return to school, a study from charity Family Action, which supports disadvantaged families, says many poorer parents will have paid out 40% of their monthly income in August on "back-to-school costs" alone. It calculates that the bill for equipping a child for the first day of secondary school now averages £191.96 when clothing and equipment are included.
The average cost of uniforms for boys is £160.74 and for girls £155.95. The average for a primary school outfit is £113.44. When other equipment – everything from pencil cases to calculators and dictionaries – is taken into account, the cost climbs further.
Family Action says that uniforms are popular with parents because they "like the overall presentation and smartness" and because they hide "income differentials" as all children are dressed the same. It also suggests that most children like them as "they do not need to worry about having the latest fashions" and therefore do not feel under pressure from their peers. But it says there is clear evidence that the costs to families are rising as schools become more demanding – and as more local authorities withdraw financial support for children moving from primary to secondary school.
The report also warns that the rising number of "academies" and "free schools" could push costs still higher as pupils have to wear distinctive uniforms, available only from specialist shops. This means they are unable to take advantage of cheaper offers in supermarkets.
One fifth of secondary schools are now academies. The first 24 independent state-funded "free schools" open their doors this month.
Family Action found a wide range of support across the country. In the London borough of Hackney, vouchers worth £100 are available to children from households with annual incomes below £16,190 who are transferring from primary to secondary school. But such support is not available in three out of five London authorities. In the north-west of England, only two in five local authorities provide grants.
Helen Dent, chief executive of Family Action, said: "It can't be right that going back to school breaks the bank for some families. Too many families struggle to make ends meet over the expensive summer months in preparation for September. We have some good examples of local councils supporting vulnerable families, but for many families there is no such help and going back to school is squeezing family finances.
"With an increase in the number of academies and free schools in the offing, we want to see firmer guidance from government so that children don't miss out and parents don't dread their children going back to school."
The charity is calling for branded items to be kept to a minimum, and for limits on the number of compulsory items. It is also pressing for more local authorities to offer help. "Devolved budgets for schools should include a ring-fenced amount for school uniform grant schemes for the poorest pupils, so that children are not disadvantaged at school and family finances aren't further squeezed," it said.
Lizzy Clarke, a mother of two from Islington, said: "I received a uniform grant of £150 last year for the transition from primary to secondary school. I tried to buy a couple of sizes up to save money this year and put off buying the new uniform until last week as I wanted to have enough money to make the summer holidays enjoyable."
Essay about School Uniforms Save Time
718 Words3 Pages
The ringing of the alarm clock that is placed directly beside your bed wakes you. The high pitched alarm practically pierces your brain and makes you get out of your warm, cozy bed. Time to head to school. You have to wake up every day the moment that alarm goes off or else you’re toast. If you are late again, your school record is sure to take a hit. But wait… what are you going to wear? Is this a dilemma you face each morning? Do you have trouble wanting to get out of your bed, and then faced with the troubling question of what cool, clean, unwrinkled outfit you should wear that day? This is where school uniforms come in. Don’t you think that just slapping on a uniform would be much easier? This way you might not have to think so hard in…show more content…
Picking out a different outfit every single day for every single month of every school year sure can be time consuming, and I’ve even met people from public schools that skip more important things like breakfast in order to be dressed nicely! This is absurd, as breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Also, imagine all those hours spent in stores and malls just to find the perfect outfit that you’re probably going to wear for... at the most, one day, because you’ll want to keep your style ‘fresh’ and ‘original’. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen here and there. Furthermore, school uniforms have the potential to make schools a whole lot safer. Think of it like this – if you were to see a student walk in wearing an ugly polo shirt and sweat pants, (s)he would probably be picked on just because of what (s)he is wearing. We as humans naturally judge on what we see first, and it’s usually their face / clothing. If school uniforms were implemented in many places, then it would eradicate school violence and students wouldn’t be indignant with each other based on what they wear. Also, since everyone on school grounds is wearing their uniform, it would be easy to pinpoint unwanted visitors and be one step ahead. Not to mention it would help kids with less money evade the bullying and teasing that they would usually receive, which brings me to my next point. Last but not least, with school uniforms, parent’s