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The true value of school uniform
Schoolwear Association challenges critics with research, highlighting the value of school uniform.

By Laura Turner

4 August 2015

The Schoolwear Association (SA) has commissioned new research that challenges criticism of school uniform and proves its value to government, local authorities, schools and parents. The study, completed by Oxford Brookes University on behalf of the Association, shows school uniform costs, on average, just 45p per school day.
 
The organisation, whose members collectively clothe three quarters of British school children, is using the data it has collected to fight back against criticism that uniform is “too expensive”. It is the latest stage in the SA’s quest to win the support of head teachers and parents, by demonstrating that quality, school-specific uniform is good value for money in the long run. 
 
Through a communications and public affairs programme, the SA is working to convince government, local authorities, parents, teachers and governors to:
 
  • Recognise the added value of badged and school specific uniforms, such as improved student behaviour and a sense of pride.
  • Support local retailers, manufacturers and other independents involved in the sector.
  • Be prepared to pay a premium for quality compared with very low-cost generic goods.
 
The new research reveals the average secondary school outfit comes in at £88.05, or 45p per school day. With PE kit, the total averages £127.32. Primary school uniform comes to £33.48, and with PE kit puts the figures up to £42.32.
 
Conversely, a separate poll of 2,000 parents exposed they typically spend more on the outfits their children wear outside of school time, than they do on their school uniform. Almost half of the parents surveyed claimed to dress their children in high street and designer fashions, with the average non-uniform outfit coming in at £113.
 
“For hard-pressed families, school uniform represents real value, especially when compared with the outfits children would choose to wear when they are out of school,” says David Burgess, chairman of the Schoolwear Association. “In fact, it can be even better value than these figures suggest because many items last more than a year, particularly blazers, which are typically the most expensive uniform item.
 
“We completely understand that for the poorest in society, uniform is a major expense, but most schools have arrangements to look after them, and many of our members contribute to those schemes by providing free uniform to those in need,” he continues. “Most parents can afford to buy their children’s uniform and, like teachers, they agree that quality, school-specific uniform contributes to better education and behaviour. It is a worthwhile investment, and we believe every child is worth it.”
 
By building support among parents, and working in the local communicates with schools, the SA believes head teachers and governors will be supportive of the benefits of quality school-specific uniforms, and therefore more likely to specify these uniforms from local SA members, rather than generic school clothing.
 
The SA’s campaigns over the summer, based around the research, will include consumer, online and in-store media, backed up with direct communications for head teachers and governors. The SA will also continue its work of lobbying politicians on issues that affect the sector.
 
 
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