Uniform cost – how does Brentwood compare?

Last month the government urged state funded schools to give careful consideration to cost when changing their uniform policy. This was underlined by the Local Government Association (LGA) who stated that head teachers had a “moral duty” to keep uniform affordable and avoid selection on the basis of uniform affordability. The BBC reported this as below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-19411171

This came in conjunction with a report by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) which undertook a comprehensive survey across the United Kingdom:

“Supply of School Uniforms“ August 2012:

http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/markets-work/OFT1436axs.pdf

As the BBC report makes clear, the LGA is particularly concerned about the new uniform requirements of “free schools” and schools that convert to Academy status. It urges these schools to deal sensitively with the cost implications of their policy. Locally, Shenfield High School (SHS) has considered this in implementing their new uniform as explained by head teacher Carole Herman in their newletter in March this year:

“Parents who answered our questionnaire agreed that there should be a “window” before existing students would be expected to be in our new school uniform. I suggested 2 years; many parents thought that one year would be sufficient.  Of course, it would be wonderful if we could move to the new uniform as quickly as possible with the whole school looking very smart but it would be unfair to expect parents to purchase new uniform if the “old” uniform has been purchased recently and still fits!  We are going to stick with the 2 year window to be as fair as possible.”

http://www.shenfield.essex.sch.uk/newsletter/2012/03/28.aspx

The OFT survey concentrated on specific items of uniform and not the cost of sports kit and other equipment that can impact heavily on parent’s budgets. We thought it would be interesting to do a top level comparisson of Brentwood’s secondary schools against the headline averages within the report. Having consulted local parents, Debbie used a minimum selection of uniform that would be required to serve a student for a school year. Figures were gathered from school websites and their named uniform suppliers. The table below shows her findings which should be read in conjunction with the notes below it. It appears that shirt prices make the overall cost favourably comparable to the national average although there are clear differences between Brentwood’s secondary schools. It is also interesting to note locally that the cost of girls uniform is significantly greater than that for boys.

Girls winter uniform(based on average yr 7 pupil) Blazer Skirtx 2 Blousesx 4 Pullover Coat Total
OFT Nat Average £30.73 £32.84 £50 £19.34   £132.91
BK £34.50* £67.00* £14.00 (BHS) £18.50*   £134.00
BCH £10.00 (tesco) + £3.99 (badge*) £35.50* £37.00* £18.95**   £105.44£86.49(without pullover)
BUCHS £74* £29.90* £59.80* £17.00* £33.60* £185.70£214.30(with coat)
SH £10.00  (tesco) + £5.00   (badge*) £11.00 (Asda) £14.00 (BHS) £13.95**   £53.95£50.00 (without pullover)
St M £50.25* £49.80* £59.60* £15.25**   £174.90£159.65(without pullover)
Boys winter uniform(based on average yr 7 pupil) Blazer Trousersx 2 Shirtsx 4 Pullover Tie Total
OFT Nat Average £34.58 £23.90 £37.00 £16.38 £5.67 £117.53
BK £34.50* £10.00 (Asda) £11.00 (Asda) £18.50* £4.75* £78.75
BCH £10.00 (tesco) + £3.99 (badge*) £10.00 (Asda) £11.00 (Asda) £18.95** £5.25* £59.19£40.24(without pullover)
SH £10.00  (tesco) + £5.00   (badge*) £10.00 (Asda) £11.00 (Asda) £13.95** £5.28* £55.23£41.28 (without pullover)
St M £50.25* £19.90* £11.00 (Asda) £15.25** £3.15* £99.55£84.30(without pullover)

*must be purchased from school supplier.

**although must be purchased from school supplier these are optional items.

BK  (Becket Keys C of E Secondary School) Supplier ‘Smarty Pants’ situated in Ongar. Online service. Visit school.

BCH (Brentwood County High School) Supplier ‘Henry Taylor’ situated in Walthamstow. Online service. Visit school regularly.

BUCHS (Brentwood Ursuline Convent High School) Supplier ‘Red Oak Roller’ situated in Basildon.  Online service. Visit school. The Ursuline school sells second hand uniform.

SH (Shenfield High School) Supplier ‘Red Oak Roller’ situated in Basildon. Online service. Visit school.

St M (St. Martins School) Supplier ‘Red Oak Roller’ situated in Basildon. Online service. Visit school. St Martin’s also runs a second hand school uniform shop on the first Tuesday of each month.

Nb. All uniform items can be purchased from supplier at various costs. I have just used the supplier where stated ‘must be purchased through supplier’. Where this is not specified I have looked at matching items in Supermarkets or High Street stores available online for best matches and cheapest prices

*Update 23/09*

Comments recieved since posting this blog have demonstarted that parents individual experiences differ from school to school and are specific to their child. As well as the very useful observation from V Parkinson in the comment section of the post, Katherine Garner contacted us on Twitter to highlight that the picture at St Martin’s is not accurately reflected on their website and thus in our table. We are very grateful to Katherine for adding to our knowledge in stating:

“boys can wear any grey trousers at St M’s, & they can get a blazer badge for an ordinary black blazer. Plus girls blouse prices seem very high. Most girls choose short sleeve not long sleeve. We haven’t spent as much as you have quoted for St M’s on any of our 3 kids!!”  

It struck us therefore that it would be really useful for parents to share experiences and tips on shopping for uniform, sports kit and equipment for all schools in Brentwood, primary and secondary. We would welcome any such comments on this site or on the thread that we are setting up on Facebook.

Many thanks!

Debbie Foster and Stephen Mayo (with thanks to Alane Lunn)

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Comments

  1. Not sure how accurate this is, I’ve just bought a new Shenfield uniform and it was closer to £200 including PE kit which is also part of the compulsory uniform. More than happy to pay out for it though, it’s important to look smart.

    Reply
  2. As above. I read this the other evening before buying uniforms today. As a complete newcomer to the British system, I find it misleading (and I mean this as constructive criticism) to list only the uniform proper. For both of my girls I’ve needed new school shoes, tights, socks, coats, school bags, PE bags, trainers and PE kit — plus school supplies and lunch boxes. Being new, I must say I’m not sure at all what I can pass on and what I really do need to get. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time before they start to go and study the children at school. After I’d bought my youngest a coat for school, I visited the school and noticed that the children mainly had their own coats.

    Of course, I realize this blog is not written for newcomers to the system like us. And I do thank you for providing some extra information about Brentwood. I’ve been quite concerned about my eldest starting at BCHS (it was our 4th choice) but I’m hopeful things will turn out all right with the new headteacher being there.

    Reply
    • Spalva, thank you for your response.

      Your perspective is very valuable and underlines that we have only managed to illustrate the tip of an iceberg. The extra costs of sports kit, coats, equipment and the like are clearly not apparent until you are faced with them directly!

      We will collate some further information on this and try to cover this more widely as there is alearly a need.

      Many thanks again.

      Reply

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