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Mumsnet School Uniform campaign.

(106 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

lagoonhaze Sat 07-Sep-13 08:20:04

There have been several threads recently which have highlighted the increasing problem where schools have the monopoly on school uniforms by insisting on expensive logo uniform or restricting parents to expensive suppliers.

Last year the Office for fair trading wrote to head teachers but it appears to have been largely ignored.

www.oft.gov.uk/OFTwork/markets-work/othermarketswork/school-uniforms#.UirSMOpwbIU

There is also no legislation that regulates school uniform only non statutory guidance.

education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/schoolethos/b0014144/schooluniform

I suggest a campaign whether Mumsnetters lobby for fairer school uniform for all and remove the financial burden many parents and carers have every year.

I'd be interested in seeing if there is support for this and whether MNHQ are prepared to put their weight behind this.

BTW I don't have this issue at the moment but I think as its such a growing national problem it something we can all consider a potential problem for all of us at some point in the future.

worley Sun 15-Sep-13 08:41:34

sky news article on uniform costs

this threads gone a little quiet but just read an interesting news article on Sky news about an MP trying to make people aware of the high costs of labeled uniform.

geekgal Sun 15-Sep-13 13:10:40

Saw similar on bbc:

http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24095539

Problem is all these codes they're suggesting are voluntary, which will never work. Schools make money out of uniform deals so they won't agree to something they don't have to do. This is why we need a campaign, the guidance at the moment is weak and pointless!

ZolaBuddleia Sun 15-Sep-13 13:21:55

Agree that this is a worthwhile campaign. DD is only in preschool, but her (tiny) logoed polo shirts are £9 each.

And Academies/Free Schools, which are already approaching 50% of schools, can ignore rules about uniform, school dinners etc anyway.

Debs75 Sun 15-Sep-13 20:03:12

here's hoping
Saw this today. I know it is the daily fail but it looks a good start

RobinBedRest Sun 15-Sep-13 21:13:57

Does anyone think the schools are getting a kick back for giving their uniform contract to a specific supplier?

NotCitrus Sun 15-Sep-13 21:36:30

Robin - I suspect so, given that according to my school leaflet ds needed logo'd polos, sweatshirt and PE T-shirt and gave a web address to go to to order them (or a paper form that the office could send there for you).
Imagine my surprise when I went to chase the order, googled the school and uniform supplier, and 5 other companies could have done the same items, same logo, more cheaply.

Followed by being told actually the school gives out a free sweatshirt and polo anyway at the open day or first day of term. Which turned out to be a sweatshirt, book bag and gym bag. WTF is the point of all the kids having identical gym bags to make it more difficult to find their own? At least the polos and sweatshirt seem to be good quality and supermarket wouldn't have been that much cheaper.

Grey trousers/tunics, black practical shoes, and any socks/tights you want, which makes some of the girls with short skirts look a bit odd!

Jumty Mon 16-Sep-13 21:58:56

I work in the school clothing business.

The reality is that most (but not all) of the uniform suppliers are struggling to make a profit. Over the past couple of years two of the bigger online suppliers have gone out of business and had to be rescued by other companies.

Traditional high street specialists are having an even tougher time. The biggest chain made a loss last year and before that their margins were razor thin.

Tesco's school embroidery service has had an impact but even they are making a loss on the venture. They're used to handling bulk quantities and now they are embroidering one off garments and delivering them for free. How long will that continue?

The only companies that have prospered are those that have ridden the academy bandwagon by hoovering-up the government grants and the academies' willingness to subsidise their highly customised uniforms. One academy I know of spends £100,000 a year to provide free clothing because parents balk at paying £10 for a six-year-old's polo shirt.

If anything logo'd school uniform needs to be more expensive because the suppliers won't be able to keep-on cutting their margins to match Messrs Asda, Tesco and M&S.

Herisson Mon 16-Sep-13 22:41:12

If school clothing suppliers were supplying something different and better than the high street chains, perhaps people would choose them more often? I paid a premium to buy pure cotton sensible well-made dresses for my DD and would be prepared to pay for good quality soft comfortable trousers and skirts. These things are not available on the high street except outside the traditional school ranges. I've scoured shops for things like this and found them reasonably cheaply but would have paid more for better quality items. What I see from specialist manufacturers and suppliers is nearly always more of the same nasty shoddy synthetic ugly clothing. I have made my own clothing for DD many times, good quality fabrics, suitable for running about and being active, comfortable and pleasant to wear - and for less money than buying it from a shop though it did take some of my time. I have not often been able to buy the same items from any supplier. Look at the stupid restrictive pinafores and skirts with sewn in pleats for five year olds - simply not appropriate for that age or activity level.

What really needs to happen is a total ban on highly customised clothing for ordinary state schools, and I include academies in that. It is not right that we have reached a point where even primaries demand stupidly customised clothing and logo items for ordinary families, whose budgets simply don't stretch that far. I would ideally like to see all uniform done away with, at least at primary level. People of my age simply didn't have to wear this stuff apart from by choice (ours or our parents) and we were none the worse for it. Uniforms don't make a school better or more effective. Why can't we concentrate our efforts on improving actual education instead of people wasting their time enforcing stupid rules for no benefit?

Logo school uniform doesn't need to be more expensive. It needs to not exist at all. A logo adds absolutely nothing to the item's practical value.

fossil971 Mon 16-Sep-13 22:56:43

I would support the campaign.

I also think that embroidering anything and everything willy-nilly is OTT and makes clothes almost impossible to recycle - they are only any use for that school. One sweatshirt is all that's needed and the idea of an iron-on or sew-on badge makes it completely reusable.

I definitely support this.

What puzzles me is, where are the parent and community school governors when the decision is made to have expensive uniform and sports kits? Having been a school governor, when subjects such as uniform and school trips (can also be expensive) came up, our governors were very aware of the burden on parents. With governing bodies of, say, 12 adults, how is it possible that none of them raise the cost issue? It is such an obvious issue.

foxy6 Mon 16-Sep-13 23:58:24

I would support this. I am fortunate that we can still get away with plain uniform but I don't know how l okay that will last with other schools making it that you have to have logos on your uniform and getting away with it others are going to follow.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-Sep-13 09:47:33

Hi there - thanks for drawing our attention to this one. We're a bit busy at the moment with our Bounty and This Is My Child campaigns, but we will keep an eye on this thread.

For now though - in case you haven't seen - the CAB is currently running a campaign on this, so you might like to check out their links and actions.

Thanks
MNHQ

geekgal Tue 17-Sep-13 14:34:13

I've looked at their campaign which is good but very long term and solely aimed at lowering the cost of the uniform. That's important to me but there are other things that are important about it, like the gender restrictions imposed by most schools, which are bad enough if you're a girl but what if you're trans or neutrois? I just think the CAB campaign is very narrow. It's important, don't get me wrong, but it's not the whole
issue, I'm thinking a joint campaign could be worth looking into as it wouldn't solely rest on MN and would cover more of the issues...

NotCitrus Wed 18-Sep-13 14:11:32

Also most schools I know of have changed their uniform significantly in the last five years. Apparently this is often because Year 6 get to redesign the uniform as a Textiles/Art project and vote on whether it should be adopted.

No problem with the project but these are 10-11 year olds! The governors shouldn't be listening to their views above the parents!

Bonsoir Wed 18-Sep-13 14:17:41

I don't particularly like uniform, but if you have to have it (for whatever reason) I think that my DD's school has a good policy: all clothing must be plain navy, grey or white (no logos, brands, prints etc). Your child may dress in any combination of those colours or in a single colour. No bare-backed or strappy tops, short shorts, ripped jeans, track suits, nail varnish, make-up or jewellery. The school reserves the right to deem clothing inappropriate and to tell a child it must not be worn again.

DD is currently kitted out in Zara skinny trousers (navy or grey cotton or cords), plain Zara pocket-Ts (white, navy or grey) and Uniqlo grey or navy thin hoodies. She mostly wears good quality trainers on her feet.

When it gets colder I will buy her fleeced hoodies and she will wear a navy puffa coat (only navy coats allowed).

SkodaLabia Wed 18-Sep-13 14:35:14

Bonsoir, that sounds like a sensible approach.

Bonsoir Wed 18-Sep-13 14:44:13

It's very economical! And it means DD gets to wear styles that are reasonable fashionable and weather-appropriate.

I would be behind this campaign

BlackeyedSusan Mon 23-Sep-13 22:03:39

i ama dreading secondary school. the children wear second hand passed on uniforms mixed with supermarket non logo stuff. we will not be able to do this in secondary.

Ruby6918 Tue 05-Nov-13 09:21:11

i am totally behind this, my biggest rant is about girls not being allowed to waer plain school trousers, my two girls aged 11 and twelve must wear skirts and are always cold, and the cost of buying new tights is enormous, they are always getting ladders or rips in them and then im forced into buying new ones, boys dont have to do this so why should it be far more expensive to have daughters at school who have to wear tights, im spending about 15.00 per month on tights alone, and i try my best to mend them at home by sewing them but its still a nightmare, uniforms should be a basic colour, and gils should be allowed to wear trousers, its a disgrace

GeekLovesANYFUCKER Tue 05-Nov-13 09:26:38

I have said this before but I thought we had already been through the girls and trousers thing in the 1990's. It beggers belief that this is STILL an issue. I think there should be a blanket ban on gendered school uniform as what is the point?!
Tights are IMO a liability as they are itchy and hot in the summer and freezing in the winter. Similarly skirts are often lacking in pockets too. Also what can the school do about it? Although I do not want to make teachers lives harder no school could feasibly exclude someone who wants to wear trousers. I would support anyone who would.

MILLYMOLLYMANDYMAX Tue 05-Nov-13 09:37:47

Ruby I buy dd thick 60 denier black tights from primark. Bought 3 pairs in year 6, she is now in year 9 and they are still going strong.

Dd goes to private school, I spent £112 on her uniform when she started. They have a robust second hand uniform sale each week. Everything is between £1 and £10.
On the other hand ds went to a state comprehensive, no second hand uniform sale, everything has to be bought new, cost in excess of £300. This included a pair of football boots that was on the uniform list although they didn't do football untill the January term by which time he had out grown them.

geekgal Wed 13-Nov-13 14:45:38

I'm also a fan of Bonsoir's school's policy, it sounds practical and I bet the students tend to look better too as they can wear what suits them.

WooWooOwl Sat 18-Jan-14 22:29:25

I like school uniforms. My dcs comp specify black trousers, white shirt and logoed jumper. They give suitable suggestions of styles that are allowed, with specific product numbers from Asda, Tesco, M&S, and a uniform supplier.

It works well because there's some choice while still allowing the dc to look the same. As long as parents choose good quality, as the jumper is, then I think they're good value. It's cheaper and easier for me to provide school uniform that washes well than it would be to make sure they had something they considered fashionable to wear every day of the week.

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