How much do you pay for your school uniform? Too much?
With the average cost of uniforms exceeding £200 for secondary school and £160 for primary school pupils, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has decided to take action.
Families are being ripped off by a staggering £52 million a year due to schools forcing uniforms to be bought from exclusive suppliers. This massive cost has been likened to an unfair ‘uniform tax’ – which has spurred the OFT to write to 29,500 state primary and secondary schools in the UK asking for removal of these restrictions.
When I was at school I had a lucky escape – we were the last school in the county to bring in a new uniform that included a blazer and new logo – the year I left. Parents were in outcry then at the ridiculous cost and it seems times haven’t changed. The OFT survey discovered that one state school was asking parents to fork out £168.99 on a girl’s skirt!
On average each piece of uniform is £5-10 more expensive if bought from an ‘official retailer’ instead of getting a cheaper supermarket offer – a cost that soon mounts up.
If you can relate to paying out for these extortionate school uniform prices, you’re not alone. Three in four schools have restrictions in place on where uniform can be purchased, despite on-going pleas from the government to help families.
David Simmonds, chairman of the Children and Young People Board at the Local Government Association said:
‘”[Schools] need to remember that parents do not have an endless pot of cash for new school clothing.
“After already forking out for a whole new uniform when their children started primary or secondary school the last thing parents want to hear is that they will have to foot the bill for entirely different uniforms, sometimes just 12 months later.”
But this is an all too common occurrence with schools changing their designs, logos and names more often than P Diddy, causing a knock on effect as parents are effectively forced to buy new uniforms.
The Department for Education says it is down to the schools to set a uniform policy to suit parents and pupils, ensuring that uniforms are affordable for everyone.
Hopefully with the OFT’s call for schools across the country to review their policies and supplier arrangements, we’ll soon see a more wallet-friendly approach to kitting out our kids for school.
But in the meantime how can we save on school uniform?
Sarah Blundell, a mother of two from Essex has her own savvy tips to save on school uniform costs: “Instead of buying new school trousers as soon as they become too short I take down the hem and press them so they are as good as new.
“I also buy a plain school jumper and sew the school badge on myself, or use the iron-on strips to make it even simpler!”
You can find out more ways to get cheap school uniform here.