To compalin to school about costs of dressing up days?

(108 Posts)
NaughtyBetty Tue 05-Mar-13 16:51:50

DD is in year 3 and so far this year they have had 6 dressing up days, that's 1 a month & if the children don't dress up they need to go in in school uniform. It's not always as simple as cutting up a sheet or buying bits from a charity shop, it usually works out as about £10 a 'dress up'.

We are really struggling financially and DD gets FSM, final straw was today when she is expected to pay £12 for a school trip.

I wonder what they have done with their pupil premium for FSM children? AIBU to complain, it's just getting really expensive!

What themes have they had that you need a tenner a time?

If you can't afford it then send your dc in uniform, they are optional.

NaughtyBetty Tue 05-Mar-13 16:55:00

None of the other children go in in uniform, she would be the only one, it would be embarrassing for her, especially because her family haven't forgotten, they just can't afford it.

Kendodd Tue 05-Mar-13 16:55:16

And do they change £1 per time? Mine does, x3 for me BTW.

NaughtyBetty Tue 05-Mar-13 16:56:17

Yes they do charge, I think it was £2 on neon friday.

cakebar Tue 05-Mar-13 16:56:58

YANBU that is too many. I would let school know it was a bit much and send DC in home clothes with a token prop.

NaughtyBetty Tue 05-Mar-13 16:58:35

On neon Friday I just got some wrist bands and hairbands, that came to about £6 then £2 for the privilege... Pretty much all the other kids where clothed in full neon.

HollyBerryBush Tue 05-Mar-13 17:00:34

I get annoyed with 'mufti' days.

DS2 = £1 to wear own clothes, £1 fine if you don't

DS3 - £1 to wear own clothes, or wear uniform and stick out like a sore thumb, OR a day in the seclusion unit if you wear your own clothes, don't pay your £1 as you aren't in uniform

It pisses me right off.

Kendodd Tue 05-Mar-13 17:04:34

*DS2 = £1 to wear own clothes, £1 fine if you don't

DS3 - £1 to wear own clothes, or wear uniform and stick out like a sore thumb, OR a day in the seclusion unit if you wear your own clothes, don't pay your £1 as you aren't in uniform

It pisses me right off.*

How is that enforceable! I would complain, that is so, not on.

ChocHobNob Tue 05-Mar-13 17:07:20

If it was just generic "dress up days" could she not have worn the same dress up costume each time?

My children's school recognise how hard it is on the parents and ask for children to dress up if they want but tell parents not to go out and buy anything new. An old dress up costume is fine or just non uniform. We also don't have to pay to dress up.

I wouldn't buy something new each time.

NaughtyBetty Tue 05-Mar-13 17:08:34

Chochobnob - no different themes each time, we had a Roman theme, Victorian theme and an animal of choice theme to name a few

havingamadmoment Tue 05-Mar-13 17:09:41

my ds has a captain hook costume he wears it for almost all dress up days. I can normally fit captain hook into the requirement even if it is a bit of a stretch. I think you are over thinking it.

NaughtyBetty Tue 05-Mar-13 17:10:24

DD isn't really bothered about the dressing up days, although she wouldn't want to be the only one in uniform

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Tue 05-Mar-13 17:11:36

OR a day in the seclusion unit if you wear your own clothes


I'd be having words at school. They could try and put me in the seclusion unit if they like. Do your kids attend prison school? Sheesh.

havingamadmoment Tue 05-Mar-13 17:11:45

roman theme - captain hook trousers + bed sheet
victorian theme - captain hook trousers and tunic without pirate accessories
animal of choice - well ok this doesn't fit the captain hook theme. I would have sent him in a wooly jumper with some ears on a hairband and called him a cat.

ChocHobNob Tue 05-Mar-13 17:12:03

In the future, could you maybe send her in particular coloured normal clothes with face paint? Or a mask etc? To save a bit of money.

I've been seeing lots of people saying their schools have specified what is and isn't allowed for World Book Day and expecting parents to go out and buy a new costume is unfair. Some schools are not thinking how difficult it is on parents. Especially with more than one child at a school!

HollyBerryBush Tue 05-Mar-13 17:12:58

Yes seriously - I complain about it every time - but I will have a larger and louder voice as a parent this year.

I suppose its buggering red nose extortion day shortly.

KatAndKit Tue 05-Mar-13 17:13:27

payment is voluntary for trips during school time. Send back the consent form and explain that you can't afford it - if your kids are on free dinners then they may have a fund specifically to cover this sort of thing. If not, they can't exclude them from the trip if you don't pay. They can cancel the trip if not enough people pay though so I wouldn't recommend this as a regular course of action.

KatAndKit Tue 05-Mar-13 17:15:05

Also payment for non uniform days is a charity donation and it is not compulsory to donate to charity. It doesn't set the best example if you tell them never to pay.

MrsLouisTheroux Tue 05-Mar-13 17:17:48

Normal clothes with a twist. Victorian day: black t shirt leggings + sheet made into apron. Animal: brown clothes and ears ( dog) Roman theme: t shirt, leggings + tin foil body armour. £10 is just silly.

specialsubject Tue 05-Mar-13 17:33:14

get in touch with the governors and tell them that you want your children educated. You'll arrange the fancy dress parties in your own time.

this is ridiculous, and sends all the wrong signals. The school should keep a box of hats etc and do it that way.

nickelbabe Tue 05-Mar-13 17:38:55

You have to complain - if you're on FSM, it's because you can't afford extra stuff.

and you aren't obliged to pay the £12 for the trip either - the charge for those is supposed to be voluntary.

You shouldn't be forced to pay out extra for stuff when you can't afford it - 2 a year should be enough, but 6 already and it's only February?! shockangry
that's just wrong.

I never seem to have the right "ordinary" clothes though, funniiy enough DS does not wear leggings normally. I have ended up buying black leggings, plain brown tee shirts, plain white tee shirts, which do get re-used, but still having to root round charity shops for hats etc, then make beards, hats etc too. I wouldn't mind if the DCs showed any interest, but they don't.

Hoaz Tue 05-Mar-13 17:58:17

I find dress up days annoying because of the faff,, but I have never spent anything like 10 pounds on a costume. I tell DC what we have and they choose something from that. If they're not bothered why does it matter if they go in uniform? At our school the charity donation is sometimes asked for, but there is no check as to who's paid it not.

MammaMedusa Tue 05-Mar-13 18:02:42

As she is a DD you could do what I have done which is get in a load of hair ribbons in all the colours likely to come up.

Wear something blue day - blue spotty ribbons
Wear something spotty day - blue spotty ribbons
Bastille day - blue spotty ribbons (spot the theme) with white ribbons and red ribbons


Also do lots of borrowing / lending between other parents. Got DS a cheap waistcoat at a charity shop and it has been to at least six Victorian days - not all at the same school either!

WilsonFrickett Tue 05-Mar-13 18:02:45

YANBU and you should complain. There is a family at my school with 4 DCs in the school, so imagine how much it's costing them! Although I wouldn't be spending £10 a pop either, face paint and ordinary clothes for me.

MammaMedusa Tue 05-Mar-13 18:06:40

I'd hope a family of four would do some sharing between them not buy a new costume each time!

Seriously though, if it is that you can't get out of spending £10 a time and there are 6+ a year you should definitely complain.

But if you could get by with a bit of poetic licence / creative thinking, then maybe try that first. That said, my children's school has a lot of dressing up days (including teachers). They are lovely and well-enjoyed BUT it is well known that they have a stash of costumes for those that need them - takes the pressure off.

Darkesteyes Tue 05-Mar-13 18:06:58

I thought the whole point of school uniform was so that all pupils are treated equally regardless of family income.
How the fuck does a day in a seclusion unit fit with that remit.
Punishing a child because the parent cant afford it. Disgusting. Dont have children myself but if i did and this happened i would be making an appointment with the Head and making my feelings clear. Not having children myself im gobsmacked this goes on in schools in 2013!

MammaMedusa Tue 05-Mar-13 18:10:11

Oh yes, the seclusion unit bit is absolutely outrageous.

I am happy to support my children's school in having lots of days because I know they also have plenty of spares for children whose parents can't afford it, don't care, don't remember, etc.

They also hugely praise the cheapest / most subtle efforts. DD gets lots of remarks on her themed ribbons!

chanie44 Tue 05-Mar-13 18:19:20

I agree with the previous poster who said you should adapt what you already have.

My sister is crap at stuff like costumes so she leaves it up to me, normally telling me at 7pm the night before. I've always managed.

I normally go online for some ideas and raid the house for supplies. And old bed sheet became a toga and a mans brown tshirt with a belt around the middle became a Celtic tunic.

My children aren't at school yet so I have all of this to come but I think that oversized tshirts and pashminas are easily adapted for most events.

SnotMeReally Tue 05-Mar-13 18:24:59

No donation to charity is compulsary - your children do not HAVE to take part and the enforced "fines" and "seclusion" for non-participants is outrageous - take this to the governors on the grounds it is disriminating against those who are struggling financially or those who just dont want to support a particular charity for whatever reason

However NO ONE has to pay £££ for any of this, and parents who do are the ones to blame for the feelings of one upmanship and not wanting to be the only one in a make-do home made affair. At our school we have children whsoe parents never bother and the kids have become immune to feeling left out (though I did feel sad for them when they were younger) and we also have the twits who rent or buy a costume every time. In between are the vast majority who make do with whatever they have at home or can borrow or buy for pennies

I have had 3 kids, one is now Y8 (dress up days still happen about once a term)2 still at primary - I dont think I've spent £10 in total on all the dress up days they have ever had between them!

If your kids are nagging you and wanting to be like their friends then you simply have to explain the situation - tell tham what else the money could go towards eg bought costumes vs smaller birthday party or christmas present. children need to learn they cant always have everything they want or be the same as everyone else, the sooner they learn the less they will nag about other things they "need" because their friends have them!

sarahtigh Tue 05-Mar-13 18:26:58

home clothes in nearest colour and head dress mask made of cornflake box, if questioned tell teacher re money

I could afford to buy the outfits but I won't I do not believe in buying stuff that is only going to be used once, I just think it is not eco friendly it is OK going on and on about recycling but how about not wasting stuff in the first place

world book day thursday, red nose day 8 days later easter bonnets on 26th that is 3 in a month

ok wear red for red nose day is ok as DD has plenty of red, she has a straw hat which we will enhance with flowers but I am still deciding about book day, I'm pretty going with pretty dress and cardboard crown/ wand

EmmelineGoulden Tue 05-Mar-13 18:27:08

NaughtyBetty The school is getting a pupil premium of £600 a year for your daughter on top of their normal funding. You should request that they cover the costs of these extras (including the school trip), your daughter should not be excluded from taking part because you can't afford it, and you should not be having increasing difficulty at home because you are trying to meet school costs. State school education is free to the recipient, requests for donations from parents are allowed, but if you can't afford it the school are obliged to provide for her appropriately.

willesden Tue 05-Mar-13 18:35:07

Join your local Freecycle group and ask for dressing up clothes. Loads of us give away victorian costumes etc we no longer need. I have/do. No-one I know spends £10 on each outfit. BTW the charge for school trips is never for the 'education' element of the trip - that is free because it is in school time. The charge is for the transport, which is very expensive. If you want to know how your school spends it's Pupil Premium, ask! School are in the public domain and their Budget Accounts are there to be viewed by anyone who asks.

soverylucky Tue 05-Mar-13 18:51:33

This really gets me cross! The school is being unreasonable. 1 dress up day and two non-uniform days a year is enough. Thankfully my dd's school doesn't do more than this. Schools like the one in the op give schools a bad name.

Hissy Tue 05-Mar-13 19:08:24

We've had the same, a trip to Windsor, dress up as a king/queen day, world book day (where a specific theme has been stipulated) and then we'll have Red Nose Day.

I bought a costume, thinking that it could be re-used in world Book day, only AFTER the king/queen day (which we had a weeks notice of) did they blow that plan of mine out of the water.

I wrote to the school about it, asked that they allow the proper spirit of world book day and do the favourite character thing, as it's easier and inspires greater creativity.

HT sent email to say <theme> or home clothes. They want £4 too! I said I have to draw the line somewhere. I'll send in money for red nose day, but I can't afford anything else.

I'm going to write to the governors actually, because this is ridiculous.

Itsnotahoover Tue 05-Mar-13 19:10:45

YANBU. Since returning to school after half term, we've had two bloody dress up days, 2 trips to pay for, a cake sale and football club to pay or at £15 til Easter! Dress up days were pirate themed and favourite character from a Roald Dahl book (because I just have one of those lying around!), plus £1 to pay for the privilege of having to buy new clothes (£12 in total as couldn't beg borrow or steal from anyone). Trips were £6 and £2, cake sale cost me £2 for cakes plus £1 for him to buy a cake for himself, so a total of £40 spent so far this half term!!

TomArchersSausage Tue 05-Mar-13 19:12:12

I sense the rumble of parental revolt re dress up days. There have been a few threads recently with people (me included) voicing their exasperation.

What schools have failed to prove is that any of this is actually achieving anything. Is it actually part of the curriculum? They seem obsessed with itconfused I wonder whether it's all just a lot of snow to look like they're actually doing a lot, when in actually they're not.

My dc even groan nowadays after years of it; they're fed up with it too.

And yes, blimey it costs alrighthmm. You can only adapt so much. You can only cut up so many sheets. Sooner or later - and it's usually sooner - you're scouring Ebay and traipsing to the nearest fancy dress shop. Even buying from a charity shop isn't peanuts.

Not only that, but the dressing up days invariably coincide with wanting even more money to be brought in for collections for things. I'm more than cheesed off over it too.

Itsnotahoover Tue 05-Mar-13 19:13:08

Oops forgot the non-uniform day last Friday as well! Make that £41 angry

I am reluctant to cut up sheets too, we don't have space to keep bedding we don't use, once it's old it goes out to the rag bank. When the DCs dress up at home they improvise very well out of adult clothes, sheets that haven't been cut up etc, but they don't do anything as specific as Romans, Victorians or book characters.

I have not heard a single positive comment about World Book Day from other parents in real life, only grumbles.

Nanny0gg Tue 05-Mar-13 19:43:47

Speaking as a staff member as well as parent, I hated them too. I am not creative; I haven't the faintest idea what you cut up a sheet into, and I can't do face paint.
Then having to find a costume for me that I didn't feel a complete plank in made the whole thing a sodding nightmare. I hate fancy dress.

So YANBU and the damn things should be banned.

NaughtyBetty Tue 05-Mar-13 19:53:42

I'm going to call the school tomorrow. If DD was getting a lot out of it I may have been more hesitant but from what I can see the kids don't even enjoy it, it's expensive and stressful for parents and has no educational benefit.

Once or twice a year is fine!

moodymai Tue 05-Mar-13 19:57:07

I've got 3 kids in school and it is ridculous. We;ve had dress up as a pirate, International dress up day (1 as a Brazilian carnival person, 1 as British Kings and Queens and one as Mardi Gras), for World book day they have to wear black or brown clothes and for Red Nose Day it's Wacky Hair and a red top. So I have to be out of the door at 7.30am on Friday with 4 children, 3 of whom should have wacky hair. lol

NaughtyBetty Tue 05-Mar-13 19:58:59

At the infant school DD went to they had a few a year but it was much more low key, usually you could just come in specific colours or mufti if you prefered.

Ilovesunflowers Tue 05-Mar-13 20:14:28

It sounds like you are going a bit OTT with the costumes. For Roman theme a sheet would have done. You could have made a flower head piece for less than £1. Vicrorian black skirt, plain t shirt and t towel for a cloth cap.

Not sure about the animal but maybe just some cheap face paints or black clothes with white paper stripes for a zebra.

None of these options would cost anywhere near a tenner. Sounds like a lot of dressing up days though and I can understand parents getting pissed off when it's too often.

sarahtigh Tue 05-Mar-13 20:24:05


but all these cost money if you do not have them, spare sheet £2 oxfam, black shirt no-one in the house owns one , DD likes pretty clothes outside nursery so we do not have black leggings brown legging brown t shirts ,and I refuse point blank to buy stuff for her that will only be worn once ( I would make an exception to rule for something special like family wedding) as it will be too small in less than a year

though come to school in pretty clothes would be easy, but even from ebay/ chairy shoes these outfits cost £2-3 and add postage for ebay and its a fiver

face paints do not cost nothing neither does wacky spray hair colour

cardboard to make a mask or hat with normal paints is fine, the odd mufti day cost £1 is ok or wear red/blue ie popular colour not yellow/orange/purple /spotty

for us we are fortunate £5 is not a problem but it is a huge problem for many families when these things crop up monthly

Ilovesunflowers Tue 05-Mar-13 20:29:57

You can take the sheet from a bed - it doesn't need to be cut. Free.

As for black skirt most school uniforms are black or grey skirts so use them. Free.

I didn't say facepaints cost nothing - but they'd be cheaper than £10 the OP was quoting for costumes. Plus with facepaints you could use them again for different dress up days.

Ilovesunflowers Tue 05-Mar-13 20:31:02

I've also just remembered I recently saw animal masks in Asda for about £1. There were 4 in the pack so 25p each. Frog, tiger and another 2. Can't remember what the other animals were.

SavoyCabbage Tue 05-Mar-13 20:34:34

Six dressing up days so far! That's madness I think. We have probably two a year. Last year we had dress in your house colours for olympic day and one free dress day to raise money for our 'plan' child in Malaysia.

EmmelineGoulden Tue 05-Mar-13 20:40:19

BTW the charge for school trips is never for the 'education' element of the trip - that is free because it is in school time. The charge is for the transport, which is very expensive.

It doesn't matter what the charge is for it cannot legally be anything other than a voluntary donation - all state schooling is free to the recipient. If it is a part of the school curriculum it is free, to all children. Schools cannot legally require anyone, whether or not they attract a pupil premium, to pay for a part of the school day. Not for a school trip, not for swimming lessons, not for cooking ingredients, not for dressing up.

I'm happy to donate, we can easily afford it, it won't impact on our family life. But it is a gift to the school. Our taxes pay for state education and schools are legally obliged to provide that education to all their pupils within the budget they can legally raise. They may not charge parents a penny.

TomArchersSausage Tue 05-Mar-13 20:44:29

I have a trusty box of facepaints I had it for ages.

The thing I feel though is that badgering paerents to 'just' keep coming up with x,y and z all the time is just adding quite un-necessarily to their list of things to manage.

Regardless of the cost involved (and that's far from irrelevant either) keeping on at them to have dc dressed up when they may have a big enough problem getting dc to school washed, dressed, lunch and breakfast sorted, siblings and often a job to go to as well is expecting too much too often.

nailak Tue 05-Mar-13 21:09:51

what do you spend ten pounds on op?

I never have or expect to pay any money for a dress up day.
If you dont have right clothes then whats wrong with mask of cereal box?

and you dont have a sheet or tin foil?

flumperoo Tue 05-Mar-13 21:26:18

One a month seems OTT. They're usually just as much of a pain for teachers as well though (presuming they're dressing up too) and something the school does to tick a box - 'We're a creative, money-raising-for-charity-school' type of thing, so complaining might not make much difference. Maybe you could get a big group of parents complaining?

dikkertjedap Tue 05-Mar-13 21:37:04

So much for school uniforms -- I find it all really hypocritical.

Sorry for your dd OP, must be awkward for her as well. Maybe next time when she has to dress up, post on MN as soon as you know the theme to see how it can be done as cheaply as possible.

BirdyArms Tue 05-Mar-13 21:43:53

I agree that many is OTT - I would complain and see if you can get some other parents to as well.

My children's school has banned dressing up days altogether because some families cannot afford them which I think is going too far the other way. Children do love them and you don't have to spend a lot, I'm sure most people could do world book day from stuff they already have.

The head has told me before that the children are very disruptive on days that they dress up so I think this is the real reason.

NaughtyBetty Tue 05-Mar-13 21:56:57

nailak - you can't use a cereal box to make a Victorian/neon costume, or tin foil to make anything other than a Roman shield in our case. our double white sheets are way too big for DD to be wrapped up in, plus I wouldn't want them trampled all over the floor.

I could have sent DD in in normal clothes and an animal mask made out of a cereal packet but she wouldn't have been able to/wanted to wear a mask on her face all day long.

So yes it does get expensive, even just buying a few bits and bobs gets expensive.

NaughtyBetty Tue 05-Mar-13 21:58:13

I think a couple a year would be fine.

Viviennemary Tue 05-Mar-13 22:14:08

YANBU to complain. But could the costumes not be a bit cheaper. But one a month is too many. I might think about keeping them off school as a protest and write a letter to the Head and the LA saying why I was doing this. But I probably wouldn't have the nerve and just go on being furious.

MidniteScribbler Tue 05-Mar-13 22:18:22

YANBU. As a teacher, I hate them. I've managed to get the ones at our school down to just two a year (1 costume day, 1 plain clothes day). It's disruptive in the classroom, and if parents want fancy dress, then they can do that on their own time. I also have put my foot down and refuse to wear any form of fancy dress myself. I'm a professional educator, not a children's cartoon character.

nailak Tue 05-Mar-13 22:48:11

i dont expect my kids to wear their costumes all day long! lol

I googled simple easy victorian costumes and came up with this

"Victorian girls wore their hair long and often tied back the top section with white ribbons. Add long black tights or even knee-length white cotton bloomers for an authentic finish. A crocheted shawl could be worn for warmth."

there must be more ideas out there! lol that dont involve buying much!

neon costume u could have just bought neon paint for a pound and made bracelets out of strips of cardboard or fabric.

roman costume, u said it, sword and shield and helmet made from carboard box and tinfoil......

but yanbu seems to be too many, maybe the next time post for ideas before spending money.

It does if you don't possess a crochet shawl, bloomers or dark tights. DD has short hair too.

nailak Tue 05-Mar-13 23:04:00

ffs, it doesnt have to be an exact crochet shawl, use a net curtain or make a paper doily or use a scarf, look around your house and see what you DO have rather then keep going on about what you dont.

aldiwhore Tue 05-Mar-13 23:06:56

I love a challenge and have no budget for fancy dress so I am so SO tempted to say YABU, and that actually a sheet can make ANY fancy dress.

But I love this sort of shit.

Therefore I begrudgingly agree that YANBU. Especially if you're either not especially creative or crafty... I acknowledge that these are essential ingredients to actually not minding if everyday was dress up day.

GOOGLE is your friend though, google 'how to make an angel outfit from a sheet' or 'how to fake a victorian costume for no cost'... and follow your nose. It DOES take effort though, and it's effort that people could better spend elsewhere.

I don't agree with fining children for not taking part, and I would not pay the fine.

I think it is me, and people like me WABU as I really REALLY enjoy these events. Pointless creativity is my forté, how can I say YABU when that is the case? smile

I know. I am just not very creative and I don't tend to see the potential of stuff I already have, to me it is just a lot of effort that I could do without. From the collective groaning I have heard from a lot of other parents recently I don't think I'm alone in this.

MidniteScribbler Tue 05-Mar-13 23:15:26

I think it is me, and people like me WABU as I really REALLY enjoy these events.

Then do them on your own time. Have a fancy dress up party. Invite your children's friends and go crazy. I'm all for a bit of fun and a good theme too, but school time is learning time, and these events do little but frustrate parents, cause angst among students who can't fully participate for various reasons, and distracts from the actual learning going on in classrooms.

aldiwhore Tue 05-Mar-13 23:17:46

There's nothing wrong with that whoknows there's nothing wrong with not being excited by bits of fabric, sticks and a glue gun... even though I am massively creative (though fairly unskilled) and LOVE upcycling 'things', I also dislike the trend of smugness amongst hobby-crafters as though we should ALL do it, and find it such fun!


Though I also agree with those who love this that it doesn't have to be difficult or expensive.

aldiwhore Tue 05-Mar-13 23:21:13

Midnitescribbler ffs calm down! I WOULD and DO do it in my own time. I only do it for school because it's requested, and I happen to like it.

Read the post, I am saying that the OP INBU, even though I like it.

You're shooting the person who laps it up rather than the one who doles it out.

I disagree that it distracts from learning though, on Victorian Day, the pupils retain a LOT of information through role play. It is valid.

I agree that too many days like this are unfair and added pressure on both children and parents.

Lay off!

nailak Wed 06-Mar-13 00:09:24

I disagree it distracts from learning too. learning is supposed to be fun. reading is supposed to be fun, about the characters, the imagination and so on, a day dedicated to this is not distracting from learning.

whoknows do your kids enjoy it? is it really that much effort to google something and do it? you may not be creative and imaginative, but the school may be wanting your kids to be? a love of learning and a thirst for learning comes from imagination and creativity, even scientists etc find these useful?

sparkle9 Wed 06-Mar-13 00:18:57

Legally all schools MUST publish information about how they have been spending the pupil premium and the impact this has had. This should be on the school website.

differentnameforthis Wed 06-Mar-13 01:00:54

We have themes at our school too, but we don't expect all kids to dress up. We ask for a gold coin donation ($1 or $2) per time.

One year it book characters & dd wore casual clothes, with her own wings & a frilly skirt & told everyone she was Tinkerbell!

It is also pretty relaxed here, if the kids can't/don't want to dress up, but want a day out of uniform, as long as they pay the donation, they can wear what they like to casual/dress up days!

I certainly wouldn't buy anything for a casual day/dress up day!

MidniteScribbler Wed 06-Mar-13 01:13:58

aldiwhore, I'm not having a go at you, but I am quite sensitive about this. Parents wanting to make costumes and have their kids dress up is something that actually caused problems at our school. Part of the reason behind it also was that we have some massively competitive parents, who aren't short of money, so they were spending a fortune to try and have the "best" costume. We then have the complete opposite end of the scale with students who are from very low socioeconomic backgrounds, or parents who are not interested in their education, and it became quite the social divide.

Whilst some opportunities can be tied to learning, the majority of them are not. Wear your favourite football team colours, pink day and St Patricks day for example are some that have fortunately been wiped out here. You can have plenty of fun in the classroom without expecting parents to have to try and organise costumes for a day that is not tied to learning. If they're going to spend time doing something for school, then please read with your children or supervise their homework, not try and create an alien mask out of tin foil that is better than the one that every other student has.

I also put a stop to "Sorry Day" when someone tried to have the bright idea of everyone dressing up in aboriginal clothing. Ummm no. Not everything needs to be an opportunity to play dress ups. We are able to have plenty of fun an educational activities tied to the day without offending the local indigenous population.

The students are allowed to wear plain clothes on sports days in their house team colours (red, blue, green and yellow, so pretty easy for parents, and we keep some coloured zinc and hair ribbons around for those who arrive without anything), and we have one plain clothes day for charity per year. The only one I really support is when we travel to a historical site (Grade 1, 3 and overnight for grade 6) when they all get to dress up in period costume (and yes, even boring old me does too) and spend the day taking part in a traditional school classroom and households. Now that is a valuable learning opportunity. The costumes are supplied by site and returned at the end of the day.

For Book Week each class gets to vote on their favourite book, and we tie our lessons in to that book and then we do have a lunchtime fancy dress parade on the Friday, but costumes are made in class during the week and tied to other learning activities (usually just masks for the little ones, the older ones get a bit more creative). Parents aren't required to then have to spend money or do any extra work, and it avoids the competitive parents, because the kids all have the same materials and make the costumes themselves, which is far more valuable than having a parent putting it together for them.

differentnameforthis Wed 06-Mar-13 01:24:23

animal of choice - well ok this doesn't fit the captain hook theme

Except didn't Hook have a parrot? Ergo, stick a stuffed bird toy on his shoulder, job done! smile

differentnameforthis Wed 06-Mar-13 01:34:10

favourite character from a Roald Dahl book (because I just have one of those lying around!), plus £1 to pay for the privilege of having to buy new clothes (£12 in total as couldn't beg borrow or steal from anyone)

Twits - scruffy hair, scruffy/stained clothes. DONE. Free!

Nailak one of my DCs enjoys making stuff, the other isn't very interested at all and won't help with his costume. Generic ones aren't so bad but Book Day is quite specific and the DCs won't let me fob them off with a character that I think is easy to create, therefore it does tend to end up having to root round charity shops etc, I am not spending my weekends dragging the DCs round charity shops so it has to be squeezed into the week alongside work, my studying, their homework and activities etc. I agree that imagination is important even though I am a scientist but there are better ways than this.

kitbit Wed 06-Mar-13 07:00:47

It's money but it's also time. We both work long hours and juggle childcare by working flexibly where we can. Can't change that - got to pay the mortgage. The last costume day was done with 3 DAYS NOTICE. It was on the Friday and we were told on Tuesday. Even if I had the money there was no time to order anything, and I had no bloody time to make anything. Managed to borrow some bits and stayed up till 2am to make the rest. Then pay £2 for the privelege.

Thankyou, school, just what I needed angry.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 06-Mar-13 07:08:03

What some (not all), of those who love this stuff don't seem to realise is that if you are not a creative type, it's like being tone deaf or colour blind or something. I literally look blankly at a WBD invite and would be unable to think of anything, let alone how to make it if I did come up with something. We aren't being lazy, it's just outside our ken.

I have very little time and no talent, even if someone told me what to make and what materials to use, it would look crap.

Luckily our school is not proscriptive so DS1 has been the same animal (tabard bought from eBay) for two WBD's in a row (based on different books).

Tanith Wed 06-Mar-13 08:07:31

They had a Travel theme dressing up day at one of the schools we drop off to.
One of the kids was dressed in full historic flying costume - looked very impressive. A little boy near him was wearing a baseball cap with the Red Arrows on it.

DH heard the first boy sneer "That's rubbish! It doesn't look like a pilot!"
"Oh yes, he does!" DH said, "Haven't you seen the Red Arrows? They always wear their caps like that."

He got a big smile from Boy 2 smile

I did wonder how many children are made to feel their costumes aren't good enough by their peers, though. Seems like an invitation for bullying.

sarahtigh Wed 06-Mar-13 08:25:25

told on monday about WBD my DD is 3 so previously I had no idea, next year I will be aware, so that leaves tuesday/wednesday to sort it, I work so no time to go to charity shop or ebay it as will not arrive , I also do not have the time to do something creative in 2 nights,

I would not use a bed sheet to get trampled on by DD a double bed sheet would drown a three year old also her sheets are fitted and of course I do not want my sheets getting covered in paint etc that is what her normal nursery clothes are for, neither to I want her really nice dresses getting knocked about, it is just a complete PITA

at same time we were told about comic relief dress in red that's fine 10 days notice I can deal with that easy also told about easter bonnets on 26th so 3 weeks notice that is fine too as can be made slowly with DD with cardboard and paint and pretty paper

there are 4 many problems with these

1. cost
2. time I think 2-3 weeks (not days)notice should be given as a minimum
3. frequency more than 1 a term is excessive
4. very restrictive themes in some cases

Iggly Wed 06-Mar-13 08:40:05

I knew WBD was coming up but preschool didnt tell anyone until Monday hmm

Luckily ds has dressing up stuff and is insisting he wants to be spiderman grin despite the lack of a spiderman book. He's seen spiderman books though so again, at the grand old age of 3, is insisting that he can go as spiderman.

I work 4 day a week - I don't have loads of time to come up with ideas so will end up wasting money on buying something instead. However when ds goes to school I'll be putting my foot down and complain if there are too many such days.

TomArchersSausage Wed 06-Mar-13 10:17:39

It's complete madness, but parents are expected to go along with whatever missive gets sent home in the bookbag because they know people won't be comfortable in saying no, esp where their dc are concerned. Not many would want their child to be the only one that is not wearing whatever they're supposed to on dress up day so it's purely emotional blackmail.

Who would feel comfortable going into school and saying 'Oi enough! Just stop this malarky and stick to the point' ? I can just imagine the tumbleweed moment as you're quietly marked down as 'That parent who won't co-operate'.

I suspect all this fancy dress is just a load of hoo haa to look like more is going on regarding the teaching of a topic than actually is.

WilsonFrickett Wed 06-Mar-13 10:22:36

What some (not all), of those who love this stuff don't seem to realise is that if you are not a creative type, it's like being tone deaf or colour blind or something.

Completely agree with this. I hate fancy dress, thanks to years of my DM not bothering about it and having no skills myself in this area. I also think that sometimes the cultural references are a bit...skewed. Someone upthread is talking about dress like a Victorian day - my Somalian friends with very little English and very, very little money at DS last school, where are they supposed to start with something like that?

DaveMccave Wed 06-Mar-13 10:26:45

Yes v annoying. I wouldn't mind if we had advanced warning. In fact dress like a superhero day last week (sandwiched between two non uniform days) would have been fun to make our own costume for dd. they only gave us the letter however the afternoon before! Luckily I managed to borrow one, or it would have cost me 15 pounds. Completely missing the point when we have no notice to make anything.

They have to wear pyjamas tomorrow. In March! Really it's ridiculous. I'm not looking forward to walking to school with the kids I take dressed in pj's.

TomArchersSausage Wed 06-Mar-13 10:36:37

Oh god PJ days are ridiculous. It's freezing cold so they have to wear clothes under the pyjamas and that not only looks absurd but is all stuffed up and uncomfortable.

I have a fight to explain for the umpty-ninth time that slippers aren't up to the rigours of a schoolday esp if it's wet (it always is).

And tbh dc's night attire is a bit of a mixed bag of ok-ish and downright blush So I usually have to buy new pjs just for the dress up day. Then you have to pay for the priviledge of doing it.

ThatBintAgain Wed 06-Mar-13 10:45:21

Oh Christ, YANBU.

My children's school are dressing up TWO WEEKS RUNNING. Book week this week, red nose theme next week. DC1's outfits have been handed down to DC2, but have just had to spend £15 on two costumes from a supermarket and one of them is shite. Am not happy - I don't see why they couldn't have just gone in non uniform and worn a red nose next week. AND then I need to send in a donation as well, it's just one thing after another and shows no consideration.angry

DaveMccave Wed 06-Mar-13 10:48:43

Yes, I went out an bought her a fleece onesie for 7 quid especially. Thought at least she could use it for camping in the summer but I don't think it will fit by then. And I thought it would fit her normal clothes underneath, it's really thin and close fitting though ffs! May send her in normal clothes with this to change into. I was really looking forward to book characters too, we'd got a character costume early for a change and then they spring another last minute letter.

At our school they do PJ afternoons once or twice a year for a class at a time when they collectively score enough points on some sort of reward system. They take their PJs in in a bag and change after lunch and then to go home again, that is a much better system.

Red Nose Day they have just said wear Red, luckily DS has a red onesie and DD has her old Rainbows trousers and hoody which still fit. It's WBD that annoys me above all others.

Itsnotahoover Wed 06-Mar-13 11:50:03

*favourite character from a Roald Dahl book (because I just have one of those lying around!), plus £1 to pay for the privilege of having to buy new clothes (£12 in total as couldn't beg borrow or steal from anyone)

Twits - scruffy hair, scruffy/stained clothes. DONE. Free!*

Except the twits terrify him for some reason!!

We've never read the Twits, I loved many Roald Dahl books myself as a child but had never heard of that one till fairly recently. I haven't enjoyed reading them with the DCs as much as I thought I would, sadly, and the DCs haven't been all that bothered either, not sure if we've ever actually finished one.

I'm shocked at talk of "fines" and "seclusion units" for DC's not taking part.

Some schools don't even seem to have an elementary understanding of inclusion.

Ofsted should ask about what provision is made for those not taking part on dress up days.
It's only a good thing to be doing if the children are having a positive experience, and that should include everyone.
Schools should provide more support and definitely more understanding.

Miggsie Wed 06-Mar-13 12:17:06

It is the time that gets me with all the dress up days, I can't be scouring charity chops while working and being disabled I have limited mobility anyway and DH works as well, inthe end the best costumes are always worn by children with stay at home mums with the time to sort this stuff and the best costume is always won by the child with a SAHM who likes to sew and obviously has spent days and days making a caterpillar costume.

Even DD told me she wasn't going to bother any more when she was 6.

differentnameforthis Wed 06-Mar-13 12:50:05


Poor lad, my suggestion is hopeless then! sad

aldiwhore Wed 06-Mar-13 14:20:46

What some (not all), of those who love this stuff don't seem to realise is that if you are not a creative type, it's like being tone deaf or colour blind or something. I literally look blankly at a WBD invite and would be unable to think of anything, let alone how to make it if I did come up with something. We aren't being lazy, it's just outside our ken.

^ Totally understand that, I am crafty, creative and LOVE spending my evenings sewing sheets into various constumes, I have the natural ability to see how something could be used for something completely different.

But show me my son's maths homework, that has to be done with a lot of parental input and I glaze over, I really can't think beyond the floating numbers on the page, let alone extract any meaning from it!

I think that some schools have gone dress up crazy so I'm not disagreeing, but I do think the ocassional dress up day isn't a bad thing at all. (One a year!)

Arcticwaffle Wed 06-Mar-13 14:25:06

We've always found dressign up days easy, as my dc love making costumes out of old boxes etc, but we've been stymied by this year's Red nose day - come in pyjamas and dressing gown. DD (8) was a bit horrified at going in her manky old too-young Hello Kitty dressing gown and shabby pyjamas. Her nightwear is perfectly fine for bed, or youth group camping trips, but doesn't stand up to a daytime school scrutiny.

So we've gone out and bought a £14 onesie. Dd is happy, she'll be on trend. But I think really that's not quite the aim of Red Nose Day.

Fluffy1234 Wed 06-Mar-13 14:45:48

We managed to come up with an outfit for each occasion using a combo of white sheet, large white shirt and a pair of black pedal pusher type trousers. My DS's looked fine and I never spent a penny. There was always a couple of kids that looked amazing, a few wore there usual weekend type clothes and my boys were in the middle.

I'd far rather do the maths homework Aldi - I love it.

There, I have just finished being creative. I can crochet (I lack imagination rather than skill in the craft department) and I make little animals for the DCs. DD needed some ears and a tail so I bought a massive crochet hook and used the animal patterns to create scaled up ears and tail in very little time with some old brown wool.

nailak Wed 06-Mar-13 14:59:40

you might not be good at everything your kids need to do, but you learn how to support them, you learn what phonics is about or whatever maths scheme they use is about, you google it.

I am rubbish at arts and crafts.

Owllady Wed 06-Mar-13 15:06:03

I don't mind doing the roman/greek days or world book day as you can usually knock something up with stuff you have around the house but I agree some of the other stuff begins to get too expensive. I have three at three different schools too, which proves a bloody nightmare

lainiekazan Wed 06-Mar-13 15:12:38

One of my favourites was when ds came home with a note bearing "Please send your child in dressed in a costume from their favourite African nation".

It was the favourite bit that got me. So even if you managed to construct an excellent authentic Zambian costume, it might not be any good because, actually, your dc's preferred nation was Malawi.

Doyouthinktheysaurus Wed 06-Mar-13 15:20:24

I hate, hate, hate dress up days! Ds1 is 10, has to dress up as a Roald Dahl character. That's fine actually, he'll be charlie bucket in his brothers too small clothes and I've just made a golden ticket and wonka bar they look shit though

Ds2 though has to be a Harry Potter Characterhmm They don't do dress up out of school, never have so I've had to buy an outfit! I bought a harry potter thing with robe, glasses, wand that they aren't allowed to take! Now he just wants to be a random Gryffindor student, not Harry Potter anyway so the glasses won't get used eitherconfused

I don't have a sewing machine or dark sheets so by the time I'd bought material for a robe and sewed it together I would have lost the will to live and spent more than the ready made outfit cost.

I work nights too, just finished this morning and WBD is tommorrow so I'm knackered and having to sort out this crap!

Well, I agree that you need to support all the things your kids do, but it doesn't necessarily stop you finding some aspects tedious and difficult. I haven't breathed a word of complaint about any of this in front of the DCs, that's the great thing about MN, somewhere to let off steam away from them.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 06-Mar-13 22:45:45

If DS1 brought home an art project, I'd happily google it. Plus he'd be doing it and we'd be helping. If school sent home a "Parents! Write a story/paint a picture/prove Fermat's last theorem and send it in on a piece of A4 on Monday", I wouldn't. Making costumes feels like homework for parents.

Luckily my school is sane and only does WBD, nativity play and colour day, and I just hit eBay, but I am feeling the fear just reading other people's situations.

Remotecontrolduck Wed 06-Mar-13 23:31:48

It sounds like schools these days have an insane amount of dress up days?!

It was three per year max when mine were in primary thank god, and turning up on world book day in jeans and a T shirt as Tracy Beaker was perfectly acceptable.

There needs to be some kind of parent revolt, having so many often awkward themes sounds like a nightmare, not to mention of no benefit to anyone!

nailak Wed 06-Mar-13 23:40:22

hw for parents? thats not the schools fault is it? thats the parents fault? I gave my dd some card and some foil explained to her what to do and she made her own crown, with a little guidance.

if the kid is thinking about the characters in the books, which ones they like and identify with etc and would like to dress up as, that is part of the process surely? and part of increasing the love of reading?

AThingInYourLife Thu 07-Mar-13 00:23:03

How the fuck does forcing a child to make a costume increase their love of reading?

If you need to dress up to prove something is fun, that just proves that it isn't really any fun.

Reading is brilliant. All you need is a book. You can do it anywhere, any time, no matter who you are, what you look like, how many friends you have, how rich your parents are, what you're wearing.

Encouraging children to read by making them wear weird clothes is like encouraging them to swim by teaching them mental arithmetic.

Except mental arithmetic is brilliant and dressing up is a complete pain in the hole.

Putting so much emphasis on attire, on physical appearance and grooming, seems to me to send a pretty dodgy message to children.

Spending hours on your clothes is boring.

You can pretend to be a pirate/Victorian/Roman/nurse/alien/orphan/crone without looking like one.

It all seems so literal and mundane.

Dressing up as a character from a book?

The important things about characters in books are rarely their clothes.

greathat Mon 22-Apr-13 08:52:19

My daughter has been spending a lot of time being a penguin from a book recently. She's got a swimming costume (because they swim), oven gloves for wings, and a pair of her dads socks for claws. She's 3 and a half though, when she's bigger she may not fancy going to school like that

greathat Mon 22-Apr-13 08:53:58

Just realised this is a really old thread, not sure how I ended up on it

quoteunquote Mon 22-Apr-13 09:45:06

When this got out of hand at a nearby school, various parents spoke to the governors and head,

They took no notice and dismissed the parents explaining they couldn't afford it, a large group of parents boycotted the next, pay a pound to attend school day, and fund costumes.

they kept all their children off that day, went for a picnic instead,

the school no longer does these days.

dibbletribble Tue 14-May-13 12:13:31

another person getting really peed off with the number of dressing up days. Our latest request points out that the children who don't dress up feel left out. Grrrr.

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