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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.

Bearandcub Sat 07-Sep-13 08:26:44

I would support this, my two are not near school age but DNs and obviously their parents have this struggle.

lagoonhaze Sat 07-Sep-13 08:58:43

Have asked MNHQ to change title to school uniform !

silverten Sat 07-Sep-13 09:22:58

Every time I read a thread about school uniforms I can't for the life of me understand why it has to be so bloody complicated.

A school could just specify a colour eg. Red and tell parents to get red polo shirts and black trousers or skirts. Winter? Add a plain sweatshirt. White socks. Plain coloured black trainers or shoes would get round the whole 'flash designer/difficult feet' problem. If they really wanted a logo they could either get a job lot of sew on badges and sell them for 50p (these could be reused) or get a more expensive pin badge which could be swopped between garments, so you'd only need one.

Hey presto- easily obtainable, comfortable, cheap uniform available from supermarkets, shops and catalogues.

HeySoulSister Sat 07-Sep-13 09:26:00

well the campaign could only be for secondary schools? as as far as i'm aware primary cant back up uniform rules legally?

Sirzy Sat 07-Sep-13 09:29:48

I have no problem with logoed jumpers IF they are good quality, good price and easily available from the school.

DS is starting pre school on Monday and his Jumper is £6 (its same uniform as the school other than a slightly different jumper), I have only had to buy one and have been given 3 which are still in great quality so I don't mind that.

I also think schools should have some sort of swap shop/second hand uniform sale so when things are outgrown people can buy cheaper second hand stuff instead instead.

the costing £100s for a full uniform and needing certain trousers or skirts is madness.

Tee2072 Sat 07-Sep-13 09:33:36

HeySoul someone mentioned somewhere on here recently that it was a myth about primary schools not being able to enforce uniform.

And whether they can or can't, would you want your child to be the only one not in uniform because of the price? Isn't that the point, sort of, of uniform?

I would back this 100%, especially the idea of second hand.

sparklekitty Sat 07-Sep-13 09:37:04

Sounds like a great idea. At my primary they only have logo sweaters and those one low income can either buy second hand or just a jumper/cardy in the right colour. Those with no money at all we give them a jumper.

However, some of my friends at school have kids at local secondaries and spend hundreds on uniform, even pe kits with names embroidered on so you can't hand them down to the younger sibling. These parents are on TAs wage, I just don't know how they afford it!

meditrina Sat 07-Sep-13 09:37:10

Primaries can enforce uniform, (in England and Wales, at least). Experts post the links frequently, but this myth is very persistent. Most schools don't, but that's by choice, not because they are actually barred from so doing.

But, one thing I'd like to see explicitly included does relate to secondaries - the extent/elaborateness/cost of PE kit.

HeySoulSister Sat 07-Sep-13 09:37:33

well I meant 'logoed' uniform!

mine doesn't wear it....there is no fuss here so far. he just wears a plain sweatshirt

we have second hand uniform sales here occasionally. I think lots of schools do.

I have 5 dc in 5 different education environments now and have never experienced all this angst....and we've moved round loads in the uk being ex forces. I wonder where all these weird schools are

meditrina Sat 07-Sep-13 09:42:02

Here's a thread about enforcing uniform in primary schools and it includes links from PanelMember and prh47bridge which show it can be enforced.

PurplePidjin Sat 07-Sep-13 09:42:02

A huge barrier to a grammar school education was the price of the uniform. Comprehensive education was supposed to remove all that, meaning that socio-economic status was less likely to impede a child's opportunities. Now, with bursaries for the less well-off, we're creating an under-privileged middle - the same as if there were no uniform hmm

worley Sat 07-Sep-13 09:43:09

This is a fab idea.
I've never had an issue with primary or middle school uniform.. But DS1 is now in yr10 at a new high school and the fashion in this area seems to be for all the schools uniforms to be trousers (a specific charcoal grey..- have had letters home as the wrong shade of grey has been worn!!) shirt, specific branded jumper, school tie and blazer. Along with branded winter coat, pe tshirt, pe rugby shirt. Specific jogging bottoms and shorts, even pe socks are branded only.
it has cost me fortune for past two years. The company which provides the uniform are expensive and not a decent quality. (Only one company) and the rate my teenage son has been growing the uniform hasn't lasted size wise.

I had a welfare officer ring me from the school and complain about ds's shoes as they said they were trainers and I needed to buy him new ones.. I was fuming and took a copy
Of the brochure with the shoes in to prove they were shoes.. he'd been wearing them for the previous two terms and was only in the last term he was called up on it!

Sirzy Sat 07-Sep-13 09:44:41

Our local high school is now giving free blazers to pupils so they can keep the uniform standard but reduce the cost

Pozzled Sat 07-Sep-13 09:46:23

Soulsister I'm surprised that you haven't seen this. DD1 goes to a very ordinary infants school- uniform is a logoed sweatshirt which costs £8.50. I don't know what the reaction would be if we tried sending her in a non-logoed jumper, but it's a hard colour to find so isn't really possible anyway. We also have to buy the school PE uniform of logoed t-shirt and shorts, so another £8 or so for that.

I'm not sure what provisions the school have for families that would struggle to buy the uniform, but nothing is publicised and I bet a lot of families would be too embarrassed to ask

HeySoulSister Sat 07-Sep-13 09:55:22

maybe its because here we are the 3 tier system....so don't actually have 'primary' schools?

I have also found that items 'lost in school' are just shrugged off by teachers. nobody really cares about your childs uniform. when they are changing and taking jumpers off etc,then I think some responsibility should be taken,by staff,to ensure the dc have their uniform at hometime......if they insist on expensive items being worn that is

geekgal Sat 07-Sep-13 10:02:39

My daughter isn't old enough yet but this is something that really irks me - when i went to school (only one year in this country ado only had to wear the uniform for a year) it was a grey skirt, white shirt, maroon or grey jumper, black blazer, and the only items that had a logo were the school tie and a sew on badge for the blazer! I was quite poor and got everything from charity shops but I managed to look as good as everyone else. Uniforms are meant to be the great leveller, not something that hampers social mobility!

Also I'm worried about her starting school and being forced to wear a skirt or the sexist pe kits that you have to here - coming from the US I couldn't believe the girls were made to wear ridiculous tiny skirts and knickers, they're not only sexist but they look bloody awful on any girl over the age of 12!!

I think this is a great idea - when i was at secondary school my uniform was over £200 - logo'd woolen blazer only available from John Lewis, same with jumpers and cream shirts - my parents could afford it but many others couldn't. I was really worried when it came to buying my pfb ds his first uniform, i am out of work at the moment. Amazingly the school gave us a full pe kit (bag, logo'd t shirt and shorts), book bag and water bottle - they only stipulate blue or white polo shirts and black shoes, everything else is basically your choice - they sell logo'd jumpers and coats which i managed to save for and it came to less than £30 for 3 jumper/fleeces and a coat and they are fabulous quality. That's less than the none logo'd ones from supermarkets/m&s

VelvetStrider Sat 07-Sep-13 10:17:15

I think the answer for most items of uniform would be to remove any copyright issues involving school logos, thus allowing any company (or enterprising parent with an elaborate sewing machine) to produce logoed uniform and get rid of the monopolies and associated high prices and poor quality.

However if some state schools are taking things to extreme with very specific styles of trousers, shades of greys, branded p.e. socks etc., then perhaps a campaign is needed.

I'm just glad that most items of uniform for most schools (in my area anyway) are available cheaply from most supermarkets and department stores.

Catmint Sat 07-Sep-13 10:23:47

I cannot link to it, but there is a report on the Citizens Advice website, called Adding Up, I think, which covers the issue of the impact of uniform costs on low income families.

DameDeepRedBetty Sat 07-Sep-13 10:24:09

I'm in. I don't believe the uniform thing really works, it is only endemic in the UK and countries which have been heavily influenced by the UK system, like Australia, some parts of Africa, and in many countries only fee-paying private schools have them, eg US. We have single-supplier issues with the uniform at dtds otherwise excellent state secondary - expensive, poor quality, and unreliable delivery dates.

The un-uniformed children at the lycee that the girls exchanged with in France back in the spring didn't seem to be suffering in any way from doing their lessons in normal teenage choice clothes - and because they get choice all the time, they weren't pushing the boundaries like ours do on non-uniform days.

NoComet Sat 07-Sep-13 10:27:49

I would definitely support

Primaries,
Simple colour rules and encourage, but not enforce the wearing of affordable logo'd jumpers.

No logos on anything else!

Secondary
Logo'd jumpers at a sensible price.
And recommended, but not stupidly enforced styles of trousers.

I'm fine with similar to trutex style X as long as I can go to next kids and pay less for slight DD2 and pay more in M&S ladies for DD1 to get smart trousers that FIT.

Likewise skirts, our are a weird colour and the quality is pretty poor.

PE kit rules likewise to allow same coloured unlogo'd alternatives.

Most most of all shoes

Please campaign for any tidy black shoes, ankle boots or trainers to be acceptable. The expense and stress caused by school shoes is unbelievable!

meditrina Sat 07-Sep-13 10:28:07
InternationalPower Sat 07-Sep-13 10:44:23

I absolutely agree, but the thing is

The kinds of parents schools need to be "outstanding" love expensive uniforms. It keeps the riff-raff out. The sad truth is, that the "quality" of a school is very largely dependant on the intake. Whilst I'm not for a minute suggesting that poor families are all undesirables, it is a fact that, on average, poorer children do less well than well-off children at school. Keeping poor people out is one tactic heads use to keep their school popular/successful. Obviously no-one's going to admit it, but that's how it is at lots of schools and that's how many parents like it.

An expensive uniform gives the impression that the school is "posh" which to most people means good. The schools people will move house to get their children into usually have a strict (and expensive) uniform policy. I think that if parents at these "posh" schools were asked their opinion on allowing more generic school uniform, the majority would say they prefer it as it is. Which is very sad.

That said my, DS's comp (with a basically generic uniform, but a couple of expensive compulsory items thrown in) send a letter home at the start of each year reminding parents of the strict uniform policy and that there is a fund (PTA I think) to help families where this creates hardship. I do think strict uniform helps a lot with discipline. Can't explain it, but it has had a marked effect when the uniform policy has been tightened at the schools I've worked in.

I think it's a bit rich when people complain about the cost of school uniform, which IMO is mostly pretty good value considering how much it's worn and then spend ridiculous amounts on branded clothing for their Dc to wear out of school. (Not everyone I know, but many). After all, if they didn't wear uniform, you'd have to buy them something to wear.

Tinlegs Sat 07-Sep-13 13:21:13

Our uniform is just black, any trousers / bottoms and a school sweatshirt (£12). PE is done in whatever they like and the school is very relaxed. (Remote Scotland - tiny secondary school).

Reading on here, and watching "Educating Essex" and "Educating Yorkshire" I was appalled to find that schools can put children out of class into isolation for uniform infringements. Astonished! The Head Teacher and staff in these programmes are so busy dealing with uniform that they can't have much time for teaching and raising standards. Now I am aware that there is one school of thought that suggests that uniform conformity brings conformity in other areas (discipline / homework compliance). However, this does not seem to be backed up by research, as far as I am aware.

As soon as these schools need to improve, they bring in draconian rules about uniform. Why not direct their attention to a draconian homework policy? Use the energy required to get pupils to work hard, strive etc, not to take off their nail varnish.

I would love to see some published research that proves uniform improves results. However, my suspicion is it acts as a kind of placebo, makes parents and pupils feel things are improving so it brings a more compliant child into the school. I would love to see an Academy turning things around without uniform. Does anyone know of anywhere?

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