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Mumsnet School Uniform campaign.

(106 Posts)

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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.

MissBeeDee Tue 20-May-14 22:32:08

It's funny I found this, I have only just joined this website and this is one of the first things I see. I have 2 children in school, ages 4 and 6. The school sell the uniforms on site. The uniform consists of a school logo polo shirt, a grey skirt/trousers, a school jumper/cardigan, a school bag and a school PE kit. Altogether, to clothe both of my children will cost me £70, not including the skirt/trousers, shoes or new coats. However, the school have decided they do not want to provide the uniforms anymore and now we must go to a specialist uniform shop where they have put all the prices up, meaning that I need to pay just over £100 for 4 t'shirts, 2 cardigans, 2 jumpers, 2 bags and 2 PE kits. Our family doesn't have a lot of money although we work. I think it is disgusting that parents have to pay that kind of money on a uniform when you can get a full uniform from Asda for a lot less. I want to complain to the councellors about this but I'm not sure how I do it. Does anybody have any ideas?

zebarella Tue 20-May-14 14:32:12

We fully support this idea, it creates increase financial pressure on parents when school monopolise the market with their own branded uniform.

FiveExclamations Sat 03-May-14 20:33:16

Apologies for dragging out an almost zombied thread but I've just had the "welcoming your child to our High School" letter and forms.

I knew they'd changed the trousers for the 2014 intake from basic Supermarket to only one style, exclusively available from the website, but now there is also a compulsory, snazzy, shiny and be-loged P.E. kit that is going to set me back £35 more than last years options.

Other than undies, footwear and coat every single thing DD will wear at High School can only be brought from the online school shop.

Do schools simply ignore the DOE guidance? "The school uniform should be easily available for parents to purchase and schools should seek to select items that can be purchased cheaply, for example in a supermarket or other good value shop. Schools should keep compulsory branded items to a minimum and avoid specifying expensive items of uniform eg expensive outdoor coats."

taken from DOE advice here

I will go check out the CAB campaign, but I wanted to rant too. Dear rulers of Mumsnet, I know your burdens are heavy, but when you've kicked Bounty out of maternity wards could you have another think about this?

checkmates Sat 01-Feb-14 11:48:07

Some uniform deals done between suppliers and schools seem wrong to me. The uniform rules must NOT punish poorer parents. It needs seriously looking at

Schooluniformretailer Wed 22-Jan-14 12:18:02

Hi All

I am a school uniform retailer and have been for 28 years.

I can fully understand some of your frustrations. If you have any questions regarding uniform I am more than happy to answer them for you and I will be open and honest. Maybe it will help you understand how the industry works and take some of those frustrations away.

Speak soon

Jon

CouthyMow Sat 18-Jan-14 22:57:51

DD and DS1 attend a state Secondary Academy. (It wasn't an Academy until April last year, DD is in Y11).

For an example of ludicrous uniform costs we have a sole, online only supplier.

A clip on (only clip on sold) tie costs £7.99 with postage. Ditto a pair of house PE socks - and they no longer put siblings in the same house, so no passing down.

Boys rugby top for PE - £18.99 with postage.

Girl's PE sweatshirt - £16.99 with postage.

Horrid polyester jumper, V-neck with embroidered stripes on neckline so that you can't buy from anywhere else - £17.99 with postage.

School badge to sew onto blazer - £7.99 with postage.

School skirt, bloody white tartan kilt thing (!) - £21.99 EACH with postage. (I thank god DD wears trousers!)

Then there is the fact that School Polo's are the (now obligatory) summer uniform. They fade really badly, as they are black, so can't be used for more than one summer term, and are embroidered with the school logo AND have red bits on the edge of the collar, no way you could replicate them! £13.99 EACH, with postage. I have two to get for this Summer term.

Yes, the white shirt, black trousers and black blazer can come from anywhere, but seriously?! This is a state school.

And DS3's primary school is no better. £25 for a compulsory fucking polyester PE tracksuit plus £3.50 postage?! THEN another £9.50 for a two pack of PE shorts in a shade of blue you can't buy in any supermarket, again £3.50 postage. Plus the PE T-shirt, £7.50 for two embroidered polyester offerings.

Polo tops MUST be embroidered. So that's another £13.50 for a two pack. (Can be bought plain white for £4 for two in Tesco in my DS2's size, and he's tall!)

Then school sweatshirts at £11.50 each with postageUntil the largest, 11-12 size, which DS2 is in in Y5, which are then £13.50 each.

Yes, all the tops I've had to pay an extra £2 per pack for, as DS2 has a very long body. Goodness knows what I'm meant to do for Y6!

It's a rip off. But the DC's get crests in Secondary and dragons in Primary if they are always in full uniform. Which means that everyone knows if you are NOT in uniform.

It's divisive and discriminatory to those that can't afford this. I spend more on each DC's school uniform than I do on my own adult clothes. It's ridiculous.

Oh - and the Secondary used to have an open day at the end if term where you could buy the uniform without the postage costs. They didn't do one this year, since becoming an Academy. angry

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

I would be behind this campaign

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.

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

Bonsoir, that sounds like a sensible approach.

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).

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!

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...

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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