Fears Wakefield parents are being 'exploited' by expensive school uniform costs

The "premium" prices of new school uniform is putting some parents in under unreasonable pressure, councillors have said.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 10:51 am

A new law passed this year introduced new rules for schools, which ministers say will force them to keep prices down and discourage them from making branded or exclusive clothes a necessity.

But elected members in Wakefield say they remain concerned about the costs of children joining "the badge brigade", as many schools insist on pupils having blazers or jumpers sporting their own logo.

Meanwhile, the Covid pandemic has hit household budgets hard.

Sales of school uniform peak in August

The issue was raised as school uniform sales are about to hit their annual peak in August, ahead of the new academic year.

Speaking at a scrutiny meeting on Monday, Labour councillor Betty Rhodes said: "I get very, very concerned when I see and hear about uniforms that schools expect to have a lovely logo sewn on.

"That's alongside things like shorts, the training kit - the whole gear is supposed to have a logo on.

"Companies out there are providing that at a premium."

Councillor Betty Rhodes said many families struggled with the cost of new uniform.

Coun Rhodes, who represents the Wakefield North ward, added: "I think it's outrageous given the financial difficulties a lot of parents are under. They're wanting to do right by their children by having the appropriate dress for school.

"Now this pandemic has hit every sector across this district and we have families who are really struggling now because for the first time children are needing to go into the badge brigade as I call it."

Former head teacher Coun David Jones, who now chairs the local education scrutiny committee, said that the new rules had stopped academy trusts from "narrowing the supply route" and creating an expensive monopoly on uniform.

But he added: "Although the regulations may very well be well intended, the reality on the ground is that children will come home and say they want to wear what the other children are wearing.

Councillor David Jones said the new regulations were well intentioned, but that parents were still under pressure.

"So there's a double pressure there on parents in that respect.

"It's part of this corporate image that academy trusts want to convey because they think it sends a certain message.

"But the downside is it does have severe implications on families.

"We've got to be mindful of these situations so we can ensure families aren't being exploited or taken advantage of."

Local Democracy Reporting Service