The stress and expense of buying school uniforms is the bane of many parents’ lives. So should schools be allowed to make it even harder by dictating where parents should shop?
As kids break up from school and the summer fun begins, the inevitable task of purchasing a new school uniform for the year ahead hangs over parents. Looking for the best price is a key concern, and there are a number of great school uniform deals on the high street.
But the pressure is added to if your child’s school has stipulated that the uniform must come from a specific store, usually at a premium price.
The governing body for each school sets the policy for school uniforms, be that colour and style, which sometimes requires parents to fork out extra for a bespoke uniform.
Schools warned against school uniform costs
With more new schools and existing schools changing to become academies, the Local Government Association has raised concerns about added costs for parents as they ‘rebrand’ school uniforms.
The Department for Education stresses that all school governing bodies should create a policy that is fair and reasonable, with particular attention to parents’ often stretched finances. But are the policies always fair? Should schools have the power to make that directive?
Understandably each school wants to set itself apart from another and use the uniform rules as a way to instil good behaviour through best practice. But how much of the decision on the uniforms is affected by the often unavoidable feeling of competition between parents?
One-upmanship from parents keen to show their child or children as the best-dressed and behaved will always go on outside the school gates. Some children will be ostracised by their peers for not having the right kind of shoes or wearing a scruffy jumper that has clearly been worn by other family members before.
But this behaviour should be in no way encouraged by an askew uniform policy that cuts lower-income families out of what should be a fair playing field.
Complaining about your school’s uniform policy
If you have a complaint about the uniform policy at your child’s school, you have every right to raise it with the governing body to try and change their policy. But are parents listened to and involved? Will struggling families be unable to speak up for fear of embarrassment?
So what should, if anything, be done? Is there a problem that needs to be resolved? Maybe there should be a national uniform policy? Or do you think that individual school policies, even if they include specialist items, allow a school to stand above the rest?