PARENTS have expressed their outrage after being charged up to £200 for school uniforms – with girls’ costing more than boys’.
Female pupils will be charged £200 for new branded kit at South Nottinghamshire Academy in Radcliffe-on-Trent, Notts., while boys must pay £160.
Parents say the hefty new costs could “double” the amount they have to spend each year and insist schools should be lowering prices instead of hiking them.
But new compulsory items on South Nottinghamshire Academy’s supplier’s website include logo-branded girls’ trousers at £21, logo-branded skirts at £27.95 and logo-branded boys’ trousers at £19.50.
They are far more expensive than non-branded alternatives, with Asda selling a pack of five pairs of trousers for £20.
Mum Julie Lester-Lee, told Nottinghamshire Live: “It’s going to double my costs.
“I think at the moment, when some people are scrimping and saving whatever they can, it’s not the best decision.
“I think maybe the money could be better put into other things like trips for the kids – my son in Year 10 hasn’t been on one since Year 7.”
She added: “I expect that my boys will need two or three pairs of things and that does add up – so cost is the biggest issue.”
Another parent at the school, who did not wish to be named, said: “I do not believe that the expense of the branded skirt and trousers can be justified in the current economic climate.
“Everyone’s finances are being severely squeezed and we need uniform to be value for money.
“As a parent, I take issue with the move to make drastic changes to uniform items – namely the branded skirt and trousers available from only two suppliers – simply because some pupils are currently wearing inappropriate uniform.”
Local Kate Handley, 37, added: “My children are still in junior school.
“I probably wouldn’t send them to South Nottinghamshire Academy and that’s probably one of the reasons why.
“Not everybody can afford changes like that. Having said that, I think it is important for children to be seen representing their school and I do think uniform is very important.”
Meanwhile, Dad Rob Kemp was left so furious by the charges he has set up a petition protesting against them.
The 53-year-old, who has an 11-year-old daughter set to attend the school in September, has already attracted 250 supporters.
Parents have been saying the school should be reducing the cost not increasing it – branded skirts and trousers are completely unnecessary and far too expensive in the current climate.
He said: “The Government and laws are clear about school uniform and excessive costs. However, some schools seem to be ignoring the legislation – and ignoring the wishes of parents and carers.
“At this time when everyone is impacted by rising costs and financial pressure, this school [South Nottinghamshire Academy] have decided that they want to force through uniform changes which will mean hundreds of pounds of outlay for parents.
“I want this petition to put parent power into the legislation – with a proper definition of what consultation means. You should involve parents in these decisions rather than making a decision and enforcing it.”
He added: “Parents have been saying the school should be reducing the cost not increasing it – branded skirts and trousers are completely unnecessary and far too expensive in the current climate.”
Mr Kemp has written to Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi.
Other parents have also contacted Rushcliffe MP Ruth Edwards.
‘WE RECOGNISE THE SQUEEZE’
The school says the change of uniform is needed after problems around skirts and trousers that some pupils were wearing, as well as the introduction of a new school logo.
It also says it is purchasing a new uniform for every current student.
Dan Philpotts, headteacher of South Nottinghamshire Academy, said: “The school uniform at South Nottinghamshire Academy has remained unchanged for many years.
“School leaders and governors have fully considered the practical, financial, and logistical implications of rolling out a new uniform. While the change to uniform has been planned for some time, we do recognise the current squeeze on household budgets due to the cost-of-living crisis.
“For this reason, we have tried to mitigate the impact on families by purchasing a new uniform for every current student.
“We are also providing competitive prices on compulsory school uniform items, in comparison with other local schools; supporting families of new and current students in cases of financial hardship and operating a pre-loved – second hand uniform scheme from September 2022. We continue to receive feedback from parents / carers and will keep the new school uniform policy under review.”
A newsletter published on the school’s website also states: “As a consequence of the new school logo and due to some of the issues we are faced with relating to ‘appropriate’ skirts and trousers we will be introducing the new school uniform.
“South Nottinghamshire Academy will purchase a new blazer and either a new school skirt or trousers with logo in readiness for September 2022 for everyone in Year 7 to 10 currently. We are looking into the sustainability issues of what happens to old uniform as well as how this is managed at a local level.”
In November 2021, new statutory Government guidance was issued to schools about uniform costs.
It states: “In considering cost, schools will need to think about the total cost of school uniforms, taking into account all items of uniform or clothing parents will need to provide while their child is at the school.
“Schools should keep the use of branded items to a minimum.”
Source: The Sun