Council leaders have told schools to think carefully before making wholesale changes to their uniform, because of the debt burden it could place on parents.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has said that schools have a ‘moral responsibility’ to keep costs down by picking more widely available clothing and not making changes unless essential.
The comments come as it was revealed that more than one in two secondary schools have converted to academy status, sparking fears that many would seek to ‘rebrand’ by changing their uniform. A further 50 new ‘free schools’ – a type of education facility set up and run by parents, charities and teachers – are due to open their doors for the first time this month.
The chair from the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, David Simmonds, warned that parents do not have access to an ‘endless pot of cash’ in order to keep funding changes of uniform. He added that being faced with a whole new change of uniform just 12 months after starting the secondary school, was an unacceptable cost for parents to swallow.
However, Mr Simmonds acknowledged that many schools would want to mark their new identity and a change in the uniform was an obvious step. He urged schools to reconsider scrapping the existing uniform entirely and suggested that either sticking to the previous colour scheme, or picking colours widely available from several retailers, could help parents cover the costs. He added that the uniform could be given the individual look by making either iron-on or sew-on patches available, for the school insignia or emblem.
The latest figures showed that the average secondary school uniform in the UK costs parents an eye-watering £200, whilst a primary school outfit could typically cost £160. Adding a sports kit was an extra cost not included in the figures.