Mary calls for cheaper school uniforms
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh is asking schools in Wakefield to allow parents to shop around for school uniforms after research showed that restrictive rules are costing families an extra £5 to £10 on each item of school clothing.
An Office of Fair Trading report on school uniforms published in August found that almost three quarters of state schools place restrictions on where uniforms can be bought, meaning parents can’t take advantage of cheap offers in supermarkets and high street stores. As a result, families are paying between £5 and £10 extra on items such as jumpers and skirts – adding up to an extra £52m a year cost for families across the country.
These findings come in spite of guidance introduced by the Labour government in 2007 to encourage schools to give parents a better deal.
Mary said: “Parents facing a cost of living crisis because of stagnant wages and the double dip recession could do without the extra burden of expensive school uniforms.
“I am asking all local schools to do what they can to ensure their uniforms cost as little as possible; for example, by ensuring that they don’t require items of clothing which can only be bought at a single shop, and by helping parents resell uniforms their children have grown out of to other parents.”
“School governors should also consult parents when reviewing their uniform policies. I’m keen to hear from parents about any problems they may be having so I can take it up with schools directly.”
Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Families, said: “Hard working families are really struggling at the moment, with household budgets being hit by hundreds of pounds a year by rising prices and cuts to support from government.
“Schools should be free to decide on their uniform requirements in consultation with parents, but they should at all times make sure they’re not compounding that struggle by requiring parents to buy over-priced kit – especially when parents have to bin old uniform because the school has converted to an academy or free school.
“Labour published new guidance for schools when this issue was last highlighted, but in far too many cases schools seem to be carrying on with costly policies for parents. If schools aren’t doing this by themselves, then the government needs to press them to do so.”
Labour’s calls echo those made by the Conservative-led Local Government Association, who recently expressed concerns at the number of schools converting to academies which were requiring pupils to have brand new uniforms.
Parents can contact Mary on 01924 386124.