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:
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:
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.”
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|
|BCH||£10.00 (tesco) + £3.99 (badge*)||£35.50*||£37.00*||£18.95**||£105.44£86.49(without pullover)|
|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
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.
Debbie Foster and Stephen Mayo (with thanks to Alane Lunn)