MP calls for schools to make uniform costs fair for everyone

Making sure that your child has their new uniform is part of the ritual of getting ready for a new school year, writes Gloria De Piero, MP for Ashfield.

Increasingly though, the cost of buying a new uniform is putting parents under financial pressure.

Gloria De Piero MP

Gloria De Piero MP

A constituent complained to me recently about the cost of kitting out his son in school uniform and I brought up his case during a debate in Parliament which demonstrated that parents are increasingly concerned about this issue.

Under the last Labour Government, schools had to make sure that families from poorer backgrounds would not be put off applying for a school place due to expensive uniforms.

Uniform items had to be available from various high street shops, supermarkets and similar shops, rather than just one uniform provider.

Under the Coalition Government, this guidance was scrapped and now, with academy trusts taking over many schools, new uniforms are often imposed on parents from one year to the next.

Teaching union, the NASUWT, recently carried out a survey of 1,000 parents and found that 42 per cent said they were required to purchase most items of uniform from either the school itself or from particular suppliers.

Nearly 40 per cent of respondents said they had spent between £101 and £200 per child on school uniform in the last year, with more than a quarter reporting that they had spent between £201 and £300.

I do not want parents to be forced into debt because of the cost of school uniforms.

I am extremely concerned that in some cases, children will stop going to school because they aren’t wearing the right clothes because their parents can’t afford them, or that some schools with costly uniforms will become a no-go for kids from poorer back-grounds.

The Government has the power to make schools adopt a school uniform policy that works for everyone.

Scrapping VAT on school uniforms could also help this situation.

What is clear is that just as education is for all, uniforms need to be priced for all.