More than 10,000 children in East Sussex are going to school in incorrect, ill-fitting and unclean clothes as more and more parents struggle to afford proper school uniform.
A recent survey has revealed that in East Sussex, 10,042 pupils have gone to school inappropriately dressed, despite £15,890,227 being spent annually on school uniform in the area.
A report put together by The Children’s Commission on Poverty, in association with The Children’s Society, told how out of 1,000 parents surveyed, a huge 95 per cent believe the amount they have to pay for correct uniform is ‘unreasonable’, particularly when schools ask parents to buy certain items from specialist sellers. A number of parents also admitted the cost of uniform plays a part in making the decision about which school their children attend.
The report, called The Wrong Blazer, said, “Time for action on school uniform costs, reveals families are forking out an average of £251 per year for each child at a state primary school and £316 for a child at a state secondary. Reasons for the high costs include having to buy from specialist suppliers as opposed to supermarkets, as well as having to fork out for multiple items of sports kit and different ties for different years.” The report describes how parents face fears of their children being bullied or sent home if they go to school in ill-fitting or incorrect uniform. The worries are so great for some that they cut back on essentials such as food and toiletries in order to afford proper attire.
One parent told researchers, “I am not ashamed of being poor but I always want my children to look as well cared-for as others. I go without so my children can always have what is needed.”
Lily Caprani, director of policy and strategy for The Children’s Society, said, “Parents are fed up with paying the costs of stringent and prescriptive school uniform requirements that deprive them of the choice to shop around for prices they can afford. They are digging ever deeper to pay for book bags and blazers when what they really want is for their children to receive a good education and a good start in life. Children whose parents cannot afford the cost of specialist uniforms face punishment and bullying for not having the right clothes or kit. It’s time for the Government to introduce legally binding rules to stop schools making parents pay over the odds for items only available at specialist shops.”
I always want my children to look as well cared-for as others. I go without so my children can have what is needed
The Children’s Commission on Poverty has drawn up three key recommendations that have since been taken to Parliament:
1. The guidance should also be made statutory, in order to ensure that schools follow it.
2. The school uniform guidance should be re-issued to all schools to remind them of the requirement to ensure affordability is the top priority when setting uniform policy.
3. The government should explore capping the cost of school uniforms to ensure that parents are not paying unreasonable costs.