School uniform:  Like to buy new?

Summer holidays have started, but that doesn’t stop us from having to think about school.  Thousands of children will be starting primary school or transferring to secondary school in September, so parents will need to kit them out with the proper school uniform.   Workingmums. co.uk’s latest survey shows half of us prefer to buy brand new uniform for our children.  What happened to make do and mend?

Summer holidays have started, but that doesn’t stop us from having to think about school.  Thousands of children will be starting primary school or transferring to secondary school in September, so parents will need to kit them out with the proper school uniform.   Workingmums. co.uk’s latest survey shows half of us prefer to buy brand new uniform for our children.  What happened to make do and mend?

Our survey said…
Half of the respondents to our poll said they would spend more than £100 on their offspring’s school uniform because they preferred to buy a brand new uniform.  But more than four out of 10 (41%) said they would be shelling out less than £100 and would mostly make do with last year’s clothes.  Only 7% told Workingmums.co.uk they would be spending hardly anything because they would be getting second-hand uniform for their youngsters.
One mum told our survey: ”I think it is disgusting the price of a school uniform.  I have two school age children and their uniform is compulsory.  One school jumper alone costs £9.  For enough school uniform for both kids, I will have to spend upwards of £100 for something that the kids have to wear or not be allowed to attend school.”

Why school uniform?
The ethos behind schools insisting on a uniform is to encourage a feeling of identity amongst the pupils and loyalty to their school.  Another factor behind a uniform is a desire to  protect children from peer and social pressures to dress in a certain way.   Government policy states a uniform should be ”affordable and not a barrier to parents when choosing a school” and ”high priority should be given to cost considerations”. 

Why splash out for new?
Some parents don’t have a choice but to buy brand new because their child doesn’t have an older sibling or wider family or friends who have attended the same school.  But many parents are worried their child could suffer repercussions if they are one of only a few pupils who aren’t wearing a new uniform when they start a new school in September.  Fearful of bullying or name-calling and also anxious about other parents passing judgment on them, they fork out for expensive clothes for their child’s uniform and go without elsewhere in the family budget.  They think children have enough to cope with when beginning reception or making the transition to secondary school without having to worry about classmates poking fun of them if they’re obviously wearing hand-me-downs.

School uniform shop or supermarket?
Many parents will buy the full uniform on the list from the shop designated by the school – again they don’t want to put a foot wrong by possibly inflicting the wrong shade of grey trousers on their child.  Buying everything in one go from the school uniform shop is convenient because assistants will offer the personal service and take the time to make sure blazers, P.E. kits, etc., fit properly.  Some shops will offer discount if you spend over £100 before the end of July in an attempt to persuade parents to buy early and avoid leaving it to the last minute.  However, some mums and dads resist buying until the eve of the new school year because they’re concerned their children could have grown out of their new uniform by the time the first bell sounds.  Some shops have an arrangement to allow you to swap items if your child has a growth spurt and suddenly finds the sleeves of his or her blazer are now too short. 
Some parents shop around when it comes to mixing and matching the uniform.  They buy the blazer and other clothing which needs an emblem from the uniform shop, but will make a foray to the supermarket to stock up on standard clothing at a cheaper price, such as trousers and shirts.   Jan Marchant, clothing buying director for Tesco, told Workingmums.co.uk: ”It is not surprising that price and quality are the biggest factors for parents when managing the cost of back to school.  Quality is still the most motivating factor for parents looking for schoolwear but we know that price is still important for our customers.  Parents are telling us now that features like adjustable waist bands and non kick down sealed hems on trousers are important – so it’s now available in our standard range.  We want kids to grow out of our uniform before they wear it out.” 

Benefits of second hand
The obvious benefit of second hand clothes is the money-saving aspect.  Jennifer Hume told the poll:  ”Second hand releases cash for the fun things in life and is good for the environment.”
Many schools will hold second hand uniform sales.  Even if you have bought brand new uniform, it’s worth going along and picking up some spares just in case your child is forgetful when it comes to putting their P.E. kit into their sports bag.   
Another motivation for decking out your child in second hand uniform is the spill factor - if she or he is apt to be messy with pens or food it won’t matter so much if a damaged uniform is already second-hand.
   
Don’t forget: Grants for uniforms are available for parents on benefits or low incomes, so contact your local authority if you want to inquire.





Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *