Counting the cost of new school uniforms

By Saul Cooke-Black   |   BBC local democracy reporter   |
Wednesday 30th August 2017 1:45 pm
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As parents and pupils prepare for the new school year and the transition from primary to secondary school, uniform is one of the most important aspects on the list. However, with so much to buy the costs can add up, especially if there are expensive, personalised school items to get like blazers.

The Bevan Foundation, a Welsh anti-poverty think tank has recently criticised the expense of school uniforms and the Welsh Government grant system for not providing enough money to enough parents who are struggling. It suggests a more generic uniform that can be purchased in national retailers would be easier and fairer to all students.

The Welsh Government’s 2008 guidance on the subject was that “no school uniform should be so expensive as to leave pupils or their families feeling unable to apply for admission or to attend a certain school.”

It advises against specialist items that can only be purchased in specific shops and are high cost, like blazers and caps and discourage excessive use of embroidered logos, saying schools should limit the number of items with these and give out stick or sew on badges.

A grant of just £109 towards the cost of school uniform is available only to children who receive free school meals and are entering year seven, and whose parents are both unemployed or out of work. The Bevan Foundation said the grant is therefore reaching less than half of the families who need it as it is only available for one year of school and parents will struggle when it comes to buying suitable uniform as their child grows.

Some schools in Powys allow for ’any make’ of white shirts and black trousers or skirts, as long as they meet certain requirements. This then makes it easier to access school clothes from cheaper retailers like Tesco or Asda rather than pricey outlets. We have compared prices of some generic school uniform items available locally.

Peacocks in Brecon sell a girls blouse for £9 and trousers for £12, and a boys shirt for £8 and trousers for £15.

From £7.50 in Asda parents can get a five pack of girls or boys shirts, a blazer for £10, navy or black jumpers from £2, skirts from £3 and trousers from £3.50.

While Tesco, offers an option to register to embroider uniform with your school logo and in turn raise money for the school.

The supermarket also sell all general uniform including blazers, skirts, unisex V-neck jumpers, shirts and trousers for a much discounted price than school specific retailers.