More than 1,000 pupils have been helped by Wakefield Council's school uniform hardship fund

More than 1,000 children have benefited from a new school uniform hardship fund designed to help struggling families across the Wakefield district.

By Tony Gardner
Friday, 15th July 2022, 11:34 am

The figures were revealed four months after Wakefield Council agreed to put £200,000 into a temporary School Uniform Fund.

The fund was set up after members of the Council’s Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee raised concerns over the eye-watering school uniform costs.Andy Lancashire, Service Director for Education and Inclusion, told committee members at a meeting held today: “The fund is up and running and information has gone out to schools on how to apply.

“So far, 1,138 pupils have benefited from that across several schools.

More than 1,000 children have benefited from a new school uniform hardship fund designed to help struggling families across the Wakefield district.

“That has cost £73,681 and has been distributed already.

“That is a really good start.”

Committee chair, Councillor David Jones said: “A lot of work went into the preparation of this.

“The response already suggests that we had an issue and the Council has responded positively.

The fund was set up after members of the Council’s Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee raised concerns over the eye-watering school uniform costs.

Last year the committee raised concerns about the cost of school uniforms and impact is was having on families who were already struggling financially.

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A working group was established to investigate and concluded that the cost of school uniform was too high and could impact on a child’s education, health and well-being.

The group found that wearing the wrong, or an ill-fitting, uniform can put a child at risk of bullying or playing truant because they don feel like they fit in.

It was recommended that the Council support struggling families with the cost of a uniform by setting up a temporary hardship fund.

In March this year it was agreed that £200,000 would be allocated to a School Uniform Fund for the 2022/23 academic year.

Parents are able to claim up to £100 per pupil in secondary education and £20 per primary school pupil.

The support is available to help families who are in receipt of free school meals and those who are just above the threshold.

A ‘claims window’ will be available within each of the three school terms until next summer.

The Education Act, published in November last year, states the Secretary of State for Education must issue guidance to school about uniform policies.

It requires that schools make uniforms affordable by taking steps to remove unnecessary branding, allow more supermarket own-brand uniform and to ensure second-hand uniforms are available.

Coun Jones told the meeting: “I know that there are a number of schools and academy trusts that run uniform banks.

“It might be useful if we can have a list. I had a request from an MP’s office the other day.

“It would be useful to know where these uniform banks exist and whether they are run through voluntary centres or academy trusts.”

Coun Maureen Tennant-King said: “As a person who runs a uniform bank, the amount of people having to come through our door is becoming more and more each week.

“In the last week we had a teacher, who has two children, come in because she is finding things difficult with the cost of living crisis.”