Sheffield Labour council Leader Terry Fox has expressed his outrage at the ‘spiralling costs of school uniforms in the city’.
In order to best understand the scale of the problem, Councillor Fox has called for an urgent meeting with the city’s schools and Academies, and for the council to consider what extra steps they can be taking to support families.
As part of the council’s response this issue is to be looked at in greater detail next week by the cross-party Cost-of-living committee (Chaired by Cllr Fox)
Labour councillors have also called for government to enact a maximum pricing for each uniformed item.
Labour Councillor Terry Fox:
“Councillors have been inundated with public concerns about the cost of school uniforms.
“Whilst we do not hold a central record of the costs, we know that a fully branded uniform, including PE wear, as required at some schools will cost parents and guardians around £250 a year per child.
“Yet you could get the same items, for half that that price at local shops. This mark-up for specific logos from specific suppliers, as demanded by some schools, cannot be right.
“In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, it is more important than ever that families are supported as best they can. The council has a role to play here, and we will work closely with those schools under local authority control but also the many academies that now operate in the city.
“It is simply not acceptable that you can pay £12 for a blazer at the supermarket, and yet over £30 for a compulsory branded blazer via the school supplier
“Of course I understand the importance of school branding on uniforms. But is this necessary on so many items? And must it always be through the schools designated clothing supplier?
“Since 2010 Tory-led Governments have cut school budgets massively. School spending has fallen by over 9 per cent per pupil from 2010. This is the context by which uniform costs have spiralled, but it shouldn’t be right that the burden of plugging this shortfall falls on families.
Councillor Dawn Dale, Committee Co-Chair of Children, Young People and Families:
“Whilst branding of uniforms is a matter for individual schools, and is statutorily delegated to them, it cannot be acceptable for some parents to be forking out £250 on clothes that may not even last a full year.
“Even the government’s own guidance says Schools should keep the use of branded items to a minimum. It’s crucial that we develop a wider understanding of support schools provide, and do everything we can to assist.
“The cost-of-living crisis is only going to bite down harder, as government fails to properly help, and I’m concerned about children getting reprimanded for not wearing the right clothes, and the stigma that may accompany those children.
“We’ve all got to pull together – local authority schools, academy trusts, the council, and local communities – to get this right for parents and schools.
“But government needs to step up, and Labour councillors are calling for a maximum limit by which items of school uniforms can be charged at. At the moment, some clothing makers are making a fortune at the expense of hard-working families.”.