Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Autumn Statement should reduce VAT on school-specific or ‘badged’ uniform

Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, David Burgess, says the Chancellor should take the opportunity in the Autumn Statement to reduce VAT on school-specific or ‘badged’ uniform.

The Association, whose members clothe three quarters of the UK’s schoolchildren, brought an early day motion to address the issue back in 2008, claiming that a reduction in the rate to 5% could put more than £4 million back into the pockets of parents each year.

Currently, VAT is only exempt on uniform sizes deemed to be appropriate for children aged 13 years and younger.  With many children aged 11-13 years old currently larger or taller than the norm, the current arrangement ignores legitimate differences in the size or the height of children who may need to purchase sizes in the taxable range.

Another anomaly is that VAT has to be paid on the book bags and rucksacks that children need for school. We believe that if the bag has the school logo on it, then it is a school item and should not be subject to VAT.

Not only that, the rise in the age of compulsory education to 18 years means that families are now having to pay even more VAT.

David Burgess said: 

“We support the current trend for schools to move towards smarter, school-specific uniform.  Not only does this kind of dress increase a sense of pride and belonging for pupils, it also has direct benefits for improving behaviour and raising attainment.

“We believe that quality uniform is an investment worth making, we want it to be affordable for all and with the cost of living on the increase, it is more important than ever, that we do all we can to reduce costs for parents.”

Monday, 14 November 2016

A uniform response to bullying

Smart, school-specific school uniform is a powerful weapon in the fight against bullying says the Schoolwear Association.

As new statistics collated by Bullying UK reveal that 42% of children have reported taking time off school because of bullying, the Schoolwear Association, whose members clothe three quarters of British school children, is encouraging parents and schools to support the adoption of robust uniform policies.

“We recognise that bullying is complex and happens for a huge number of reasons,” says the Association’s Chairman, David Burgess, “but we think uniform can play an important role in tackling bullying in school.”

“Most obviously, uniform puts students on a level playing field in terms of dress and reduces opportunities for bullying based on appearance.

“Outside of school, it enables students to be identified in the wider community – increasing both their security and their accountability outside of the school gates.”

He says there are wider benefits too:

“Smart, school specific uniform helps to instil pride and a greater sense of community amongst students in schools.

“Many head teachers have reported a direct link between the introduction of robust uniform policies and improvements in school-wide behaviour and attainment. 

“We believe every child deserves to experience those benefits.”


Monday, 31 October 2016

The psychological impact of uniform

The Schoolwear Association believes there are real benefits to students wearing school uniform.

And with a growing trend to adopt increasingly smart, school-specific uniform, it seems that schools agree.

The idea that wearing uniform reduces peer pressure and bullying because everyone is dressed the same is fairly obvious.

But what about its ability to improve behaviour more generally and raise attainment?  Can what you wear really change the way you feel, think and act?
There is plenty of research to suggest that it can.

There are lots of studies to show that clothing has a strong impact on how you see yourself as well as how others see you.

A project to measure the effect of workplace dress on employee self-perceptions showed that people viewed themselves as most authoritative, trustworthy, productive and competent when wearing formal business attire as opposed more casual dress.1

In a similar study, employees reported ‘psychological discomfort’ if they felt ‘inappropriately dressed for work’, whereas they felt most confident when dressed ‘appropriately’ in comparison to their colleagues. 
Researchers Adam and Galinsky determined that clothing could actually affect the way people behave. 

They conducted an experiment with a white lab coat; an item of clothing they found people tend to associate with attention to detail. 

One group of participants wore a white lab coat described as a painter’s coat and another group wore the same lab coat which was described as a medical doctor’s lab coat. A third group saw the lab coat but did not wear it.  They were then given a task to perform which tested their ability to concentrate despite various distractions. The group wearing the coat described as a medical doctor’s lab coat significantly outperformed the other two groups.

All of these studies, and many more besides, have found clear links between dress and the way we behave.
But recent research by a team of psychological scientists from California State University, Northridge and Columbia University goes even further than that to suggest that the formality of our dress can actually change the way we think.4

In their experiment, they first asked students to rate the formality of what they were wearing in relation to their peers. Then they got them to perform a series of tests designed to measure their style of thinking: they were given a list of actions and asked to choose between abstract and concrete explanations for the action. For example, the description for ‘‘voting’’ could be the more abstract: ‘‘influencing the election’’, or the more concrete action: ‘‘marking a ballot.’’

The more formally the student felt they were dressed, the more likely they were to opt for the abstract descriptions, suggesting that formal dressing leads to more abstract thinking.

So what does it all mean for school uniform?

Whilst the research out there doesn’t prove the specific benefits of school uniform, it does back up the idea that children who go to school in a smart, formal uniform that matches their peers’ are likely to feel more comfortable, less open to peer pressure and in a mindset that says they are ready to learn.

Behavioural Psychologist, Jo Hemmings, says:

“A badly fitted or tatty uniform means children stand out from their peer group, and can make them feel embarrassed or uncomfortable, and a likelier target for teasing and bullying.

“It’s important to choose uniform that fits your child well, is comfortable to wear and good quality, and to keep it in good order.”

What do you think?  Does the way you dress affect the way you think, feel or act?

  1. (Peluchette J, Karl K: The impact of workplace attire on employee self-perceptions. Human Resource Development Quarterly. 2007, 18 (3): 345-360.)
  2. (Rafaeli A, Dutton J, Harquial C, Mackie-Lewis S: Navigating by attire: the use of dress by administrative employees. Academy of Management Journal. 1997, 40: 19-45.)
  3. (Adam H, Galinsky AD: Enclothed cognition, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 2012 48 (4): 918-925.)
  4. (Slepian, M. L., Ferber, S. N., Gold, J. M., & Rutchick, A. M. (2015). The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing. Social Psychological and Personality Science. doi: 10.1177/1948550615579462)

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

How can supermarkets sell school uniform so cheaply?

With Supermarkets offering school shirts for less than the price of a cup of coffee, school uniform has never seemed so affordable; welcome news you might think for hard pressed parents.  But have you ever stopped to consider just how good value the uniform you can pop in your trolley with the weekly shop really is?  Exactly how can it be produced so cheaply?

The simple answer is, it can’t.  The pair of polo shirts you can pick up for less than £2 from Aldi or Lidl will have passed through hundreds of people’s hands – from the workers who weave the fabric through to those involved in the manufacturing process to national and international shipping - before arriving on the shelves.  That all costs money.  But many supermarkets use your children’s uniform as a loss leader: something they accept they’ll lose rather than make money on.  The payoff?  It gets you into their store.

In other words, it’s a marketing ploy.  Which is fine, but leads you to question just how much concern the retail giants can have for the quality of these garments.  It also raises concerns about the ‘hidden costs’ of cheap clothing, such as the conditions of poor families in developing countries.

Whilst good quality uniform might have slightly higher up-front costs, it is an investment that pays longer term dividends – both in terms of your pocket and your child’s education.

Firstly, it will last longer.  A blazer, one of the more expensive uniform items for example, will typically stay with your child for two school years; and then you’ll probably pass it on to younger siblings.  So over, time, it represents excellent value.

We also know from schools that good quality, school-specific uniform contributes to higher educational attainment, better behaviour in school and increased safety because students are identifiable.  And we certainly believe that’s an investment worth making.

So how do schools provide good value uniforms to their students? They work closely with specialist suppliers who understand the importance of school wear and what it needs to stand up to.  These suppliers have the experience and knowledge to recommend good value designs which create a sense of pride in school and community.

Most suppliers recommend a mix of school specific items (like branded blazers and sweatshirts) alongside more generic items (like trousers or polo shirts) to help keep costs down.

Importantly, they recognise that children continue to grow throughout the school year and make sure parents can buy uniform items in the sizes they need all year round, not just at ‘back to school’ time.

In a throw-away culture it is easy to be tempted by the ‘cheaper now’ option.  At that price, if it’s ruined after a few months you’ll just replace it, right?

But is that just false economy?  And with a growing trend to consider where our clothes come from, the quality of the materials they are made with and what happens to them after we discard them, perhaps it’s time to invest a little more up front to reap the longer term benefits. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016


The Schoolwear Association, whose members together help to clothe three-quarters of Britain’s children, highlights five big challenges facing schools, governors, parents and suppliers as they head into the new school year.

1.   Surge in secondary school student numbers
Government figures show the number of pupils attending England's secondary schools is to rise by 20% over the course of the next decade, with nearly 3.3 million pupils expected to be attending state-funded secondaries by 2024, compared with just over 2.7 million in 2015. According to the Department for Education, this is mainly due to the upturn in the birth rate. Schools don't always get the timing right with suppliers so with rising numbers of students needing to be kitten out, it is vital to work closely together and plan well in advance to ensure that every child benefits from the advantages of a good quality, school specific uniforms in improved learning, behaviour and safety.

2.   Pressure to reduce cost and price, compromising quality
Some stores are launching a price war in order to increase footfall by selling off-the-shelf school clothing, in turn some schools are under unreasonable pressure to reduce school uniform prices. It is a false economy to try to clothe children on the cheap. Poor quality clothes aren't durable and don’t do the job properly.

As with everything, there are genuine benefits from paying a little extra for a good value product and service. A uniform that is made well does the job better and offers real value because it lasts longer and looks the part. Going for the cheapest option may also come with a hidden price tag, at the expense of the environment or the conditions of the workers who had to produce the clothes. While proper school uniform sometimes gets singled out as expensive. The real drain on many family budgets is often the branded clothing children wear when they are not in school.

3.   Religion
In the diverse country in which we live, schools have to think carefully about how to accommodate religious beliefs. This means school uniforms must be flexible enough to be able to meet the needs of everyone without compromising the school's identity.

4.   Obesity
Unfortunately, Obesity in children is continuing to increase in the UK, impacting many school students. It is one of the reasons schoolwear suppliers have to stock a wide range of different shapes and sizes, including larger school uniforms. A commitment to a school to provide uniform in all sizes, all year round is one of the reasons that schools prefer to work with specialist suppliers.

5.   Transgender / gender diversity
Some schools are moving towards more gender neutral school uniforms, as part of a drive for the education system to be more open to children questioning their gender identity. The important thing is not whether there are well-defined male and female versions of a uniform but that the school retains a strict policy to ensure that everyone can wear the uniform in a way that contributes to the school's identity and everyone's sense of belonging to the school and its local community.

David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, said: “As we enter the new school year, it is an opportunity to highlight the benefits of good quality uniform. We understand that price is important but a uniform that is made well does the job better than cheap off-the-shelf clothing and offers better value because it lasts longer. We advise schools and parents to work with specialist suppliers to find the best value uniform for children, who are also in a position to cater to all of a school's uniform requirements. Making good decisions at the outset will always provide better long term value.” 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016


It may be difficult to get your child into a top state school but affording the school uniform isn’t, reveals a new survey by the Schoolwear Association, whose members together help to clothe three-quarters of Britain’s children.

All of the top 20 state schools in England insist on a uniform, and the majority also stipulate a blazer and tie.

The study carried out by the Schoolwear Association reveals the average cost of a complete outfit in these schools is less than £107 - just 54p a day per school year, and even better value when you consider that items such as blazers and ties will last for more than one school year.

David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, said: “We see more and more schools and academies upgrading to smarter and better quality uniform, and we want everyone to see it as a worthwhile investment in our children’s futures. This new research shows that good school uniform is great value, especially when compared to the cost of the branded clothes many children wear out of school. Most parents and teachers agree that good quality, school-specific uniform contributes to improved learning, better behaviour and increased child safety. We know the cost can be significant for hard-pressed families so as an industry, we’re working with schools and spearheading initiatives such as school uniform vouchers to help. We believe every child is worth it.”

Researchers looked at England’s top 20 state schools ranked by 2015 GCSE results, and added up the cost of compulsory, school specific daywear outfit items – which may include a blazer, jumper, cardigan, trousers, skirt, kilt, shirt, tie, socks or tights but not sportswear. Additional, non-school specific items may be required to complete outfits. 

Prices in the top 20 state schools range from £29 at Newport Girls High School, which only stipulates a school specific shirt and jumper or cardigan, to £188 at St Michael School, which stipulates a school specific blazer, shirt, skirt/kilt and a jumper or cardigan.

The Schoolwear Association points to previous research by Oxford Brooks University that showed a children’s designer sweatshirt costs more than £46, which is more than the cost of an entire primary school outfit.

Mr Burgess added: “Responsible specialist schoolwear suppliers provide quality products at competitive prices with a mix of school specific uniform items and generic garments to create a smart look at an acceptable price. They work closely with schools, and we have recently produced a guide to school uniform for head teachers and governors to help them to get best value from uniform, including how to carry out competitive tenders with suppliers.”

Thursday, 4 August 2016


We're frequently amazed by the generosity of our members. Often, this takes the form of support for schools to help disadvantaged families afford top quality school uniform for their children. On other occasions, we've donated surplus stock to children in some of the world's poorest countries. Many members make donations to charities and support them with fundraising events. Here's just one example.

Six employees at Schoolwear Association member Stevensons are taking part in The London Triathlon to raise money for Brainwave.

The team, which includes Joint Managing Director John Stevenson, is hoping to raise £3,600 for the charity which helps children with disabilities to achieve greater independence. The children they work with have a range of conditions including autism, brain injuries, such as cerebral palsy, and genetic conditions such as Down’s Syndrome.

The Olympic distance triathlon comprises a 1500m swim, a 40km cycle ride and a 10km run.

Gavin Cocksedge, Business Development Manager at Stevensons and Schoolwear Association Member, comments: “Brainwave is such an important charity to more than 600 children and their families.  We hope that our fundraising efforts will help Brainwave continue to provide amazing care for children with disabilities and raise the profile of such a worthwhile charity. I wish all of ‘Team Stevensons’ well during what promises to be a tough Triathlon.”

To donate, please click here: or you can donate via text, using code STVN65 + the amount you want to donate (e.g. £10) to 70070.

Stevensons is one of the largest independent school uniform and schoolwear providers in the UK, serving over 350 schools nationwide.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016


Be brave and positive. That was the message of our Chair David Burgess to executive members meeting in Manchester.

"It's a scarier world post Brexit but we all have to be brave and remain positive," he said. "We have a new Prime Minister, of course, and a new Education Secretary, Justine Greening, who has sensibly said that she is going to look at the strategies her department currently has in place before she changes anything."

He said: "Whenever there is a big change, there are lots of opportunities, and that is what we have to look at. There are downsides, such as the exchange rate that will mean prices rise but as the Governor of the Bank of England has said, there is not enough information about what will happen post Brexit to make a sensible decision about the future. There are a lot of possibilities. As an industry, we have to make sure we do a great job this year, to make sure we deliver in retail and manufacture and all areas. There are all the signs that it will be a good back to school period this year, and we have to make sure we deliver quality and value to parents. We know from a Department for Education survey that eight out of ten parents are satisfied with the arrangements for uniform at their children’s schools, and we must all work to ensure that continues."

Our public affairs lead, Matthew Easter, said Brexit was likely to delay the implementation of a Treasury bill that would see the government guidelines for schools on specifying uniform become law. In discussions with the Department for Education before the referendum, he learned that they were awaiting a Parliamentary slot to begin the process that would be the Autumn at the earliest before that happened.

"Post Brexit, the chances of getting a slot are diminished because of additional legislation that will now be necessary," he forecast. The fact that the uniform legislation was part of a bigger Treasury package of measures covering insurance, banking and mobile phone charges meant it would be subject to lobbying from a large number of affected industries which would likely further delay the process.

Another complication was that the legislation could be affected by EU law which might no longer be applicable after Britain formally leaves.

Executive member Donald Moore forecasts that price rises as a result of the falling value of the pound would not be passed on wholly by suppliers to retailers, and that retailers would not pass on all of their increased costs to customers, shielding consumers from the full effect. That is what happened after the 2008 crash, he said, leading to lean times for the industry. "You won't see a 20 per cent price rise in store just because the pound is 20 per cent weaker against the dollar," he added.

Meanwhile, we are planning talks with associations representing head teachers and governors to put the case for good quality, good value, school-specific uniform and its benefits in improved learning, better behaviour and child safety.


With more schools opting for smarter quality uniforms including blazers and badges, the Schoolwear Association says the trend will actually save parents money.

Garment testing that showed high quality school-specific uniform out-performed low-cost off-the-shelf school clothing in durability and long life.

Our Chairman David Burgess said: “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. In fact, it can be even better value than these figures suggest because many items of quality school wear last more than a year, particularly blazers which are typically the most expensive uniform item.

"Most parents and teachers agree that quality, school specific uniform contributes to better education and behaviour. Therefore, it is a worthwhile investment, and we believe every child is worth it.”

In years gone by, traditional school uniform looked like it might be declining, as modernising education trends led some schools to dress down their uniform or do away with it altogether. But smart traditional school-specific uniform has made a comeback with many schools transforming into academies and upgrading their uniform as a strong visual message of change.

But uniform still represents great value for money, as research by Oxford Brookes University for the Schoolwear Association shows that a school uniform costs on average just 45p per school day, and the real drain on many family clothing budgets are outfits children wear when they are not in school. Research showed one individual garment to be worn out of school, such as a designer sweatshirt, could cost an average of £46.58, that’s £13.10 more than the cost of a full primary school uniform, excluding PE kit.

As children enjoy their summer holidays, we urge parents to purchase uniforms for the next school year now in order to avoid the annual back-to-school panic. This will ensure that there aren't any last-minute problems, especially if there are any special requirements, as this will give suppliers time to resolve them.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

SA Responds to Daily Mail

In response to this article published on 14th July: “Lidl steps up school uniform price war with £3.75 outfit”, we wanted to emphasise that although we recognise that price is important, it is a false economy to choose the cheap option.

There are real benefits if you are willing to pay a little extra for a good value product and service. A uniform that is made well does the job better and offers better value because it lasts longer and looks the part, with all the benefits that we know uniform brings in behaviour, learning and safety.

If uniform isn’t durable and looks scruffy or doesn’t match, it doesn’t do the job properly. Going for the cheapest option may also come with a hidden price tag, at the expense of the environment or the conditions of the workers who had to produce it.

It is a misconception that school uniform is expensive. Our research shows that school uniform costs on average just 45p per school day per child. We strongly believe every child is worth it, and we know teachers and the majority of parents agree. The real drain on many family budgets is the clothing children wear when they are not in school.

We advise schools and parents to work with specialist suppliers to find the best value uniform for children. Making good decisions at the outset will always provide better long term value than simply opting for the cheaper option on the shelf.

David Burgess, Chair of the Schoolwear Association

Monday, 13 June 2016


As we enter the last academic term before the summer, The Schoolwear Association, whose members clothe three-quarters of Britain’s children, is urging parents to purchase uniforms for the next school year early to avoid the annual back-to-school panic.

By late August each year, schools and specialist schoolwear suppliers are inundated with last minute uniform requests, which can result in a more time consuming experience for parents, if they are unable to source specific sizes or styles so close to the start of the new school year.

According to the Schoolwear Association, the three main reasons why parents leave it to the last minute to shop for school uniform are:
·         The arrival of the holidays means school drops off the radar
·         Leaving it to near the start of the school year to see if the child’s size changes
·         Families want to put off the expense

David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, said: “All these approaches are false economy and will end up costing parent’s time and money. It makes sense to buy early to avoid the rush and to ensure that there aren't any last-minute problems. If there are any special requirements, this will give suppliers time to resolve them, meaning you’re not faced with extra expense or stress.”

“Taking the time now to choose a specialist schoolwear supplier will offer real benefits if you are willing to pay a little extra for a premium product and service. We understand that price is important but a uniform that is made well does the job better and offers better value because it lasts longer,” added Burgess.

The Schoolwear Association represents British businesses involved in the manufacture and supply of school-specific uniform, from manufacturers to wholesalers and independent retailers. Established in 2006, the association is run on an entirely voluntary basis by some of the sector’s most experienced professionals.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Ethical considerations should always be a top priority

David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, comments:

“It goes without saying that for those operating within the Schoolwear supply chain, ethical considerations should always be a top priority, which is why our members sign up to a code of conduct, which commits them to complying with government regulations regarding employment law and health and safety issues, not only those relating to their own business, but also the manufacturing companies that they use.

Our members are strongly encouraged to only source from factories that comply with Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) or similar accredited schemes and that the materials used in the production of the garments are free from potentially harmful chemicals.

For parents, school uniform offers excellent value, but when ordering or purchasing school uniform, price is not the only issue and we need to think about, not just the children who will be wearing the garments, but also the method of manufacture and the working conditions of the people who have made them. It is important that the welfare of the workforce is considered in the choice of the supply chain and our members make every effort to ensure that their sources are ethical and environmentally responsible.

We cannot avoid the topic of price, as this is very important, but it does not pay to clothe our children in cheap Schoolwear that doesn’t always do the job. When you are talking about garments that your child is wearing for up to ten hours a day or more, good value is not necessarily the cheapest clothing on the rail in the budget outlet. It is even worse if it comes with a hidden price tag, because ethical considerations have been overlooked such as the mistreatment of poor families in developing countries.

Of course, for disadvantaged families in the UK, the cost of uniform can be a consideration. Many suppliers provide help, to the schools that they serve, for example, by donating uniforms to needy families or helping to provide other solutions for those who need them. At the Schoolwear Association, we believe that diligent parents want to be able to provide the very best school uniform for their child, which is why we try to offer a service to schools to help make sure that all children are clothed the same regardless of income, size or location.

There is pressure from some quarters to simply make uniforms cheaper, but we must make sure that this does not come at the expense of quality or durability. It is common sense that a uniform that is made well does the job better and offers real value for money because it lasts longer. There are better ways to make uniform affordable to everyone, to fit all sizes, all year round.”

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Schoolwear Association aims to ensure quality moves up the uniform agenda as schools are ordered to become academies

Our Chair David Burgess has responded to the Chancellor’s announcement in the Budget that all state schools are to become academies by 2020.

He said: “Legislation will be brought before Parliament shortly and it will be clearer how it might actually work. We will be looking at it closely and keeping our members informed.

“There are always developments in education that have implications for suppliers of school uniform, such as last autumn’s announcement that the DfE uniform guidelines would be made statutory.

“The Schoolwear Association continues to work with all those who have an interest in school uniform, including schools, suppliers, specialists, parents, government and other stakeholders.

“There have been many changes to Schools during the past 15 years, causing all sorts of challenges and this is another. Whatever system evolves, our primary aim is that children and students will start the school year with a proper uniform.

“It is possible that the change to academy status will result in at least some head teachers considering their school’s uniform. There is a lot of work to do to ensure everything goes smoothly.

“The School Uniform market is a very competitive environment, which has brought great benefits for parents. Many of the main items of uniform are lower in cost than they were 20 years ago. We recognize that cost is an important element, but there has to be the right balance with quality, performance and service if uniform is to deliver the benefits that schools, parents and government all want in our education system.

“There are other announcements in the Budget that have implications for school uniform. Secondary schools in England will bid for new funding for extra activities like sport and art. A quarter of secondary schools to stay open after 3:30pm so durable, longer-lasting and comfortable uniform will be even more of a priority.

“We assure our members and everyone with in interest in school uniform that as education faces change, we will be working hard to encourage common sense throughout the issues that arise over the coming years.”

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Every child is worth it

Every child deserves a quality school-specific uniform, says David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association.  

“A student should be able to go to school in a good quality uniform, which matches that of everyone else and provides real value for money because it lasts longer.

Each child also has the right to all the things a good quality uniform can help to confer, such as improved behaviour, better learning and greater all-round safety. Good quality uniforms can help students with their overall school experience.

So how do schools provide quality uniforms to their students? This is achieved by working closely with specialist suppliers. They understand how important Schoolwear is, and have the experience and knowledge to recommend the right options which help to create a sense of pride in the school and the community.

Specialist suppliers can offer suitable solutions for everyone, by using a mix of clothes specific to the school and others, which are more widely available. They recognise the importance of being able to provide all sizes and all colour options all year round, not just at ‘back to school’ time.

We cannot avoid the topic of price, as this is very important to the majority of parents, but when looking for the best value from a garment, it is false economy to think that clothing our children in cheap Schoolwear is the answer, especially if it isn’t durable and it doesn’t do the job properly. It is even worse if it comes with a hidden price tag at the expense of the environment or the workers who had to produce it.

It is a preconception that purchasing uniform from specialist suppliers is costly, as our research highlighted - school uniform costs on average just 45p per school day. The real drain on many family budgets is the clothing children wear when they are not in school. One individual garment to be worn out of school could cost an average of £46.58, that’s £13.10 more than the cost of a full primary school uniform, excluding PE kit.

Of course, for poorer families in the UK, the cost of uniform can be a stretch. Many specialist suppliers have close relationships with their schools and are able to offer a number of ways to help in these situations. We have campaigned in the past to reduce the VAT on school uniform and to offer school uniform vouchers similar to child care vouchers to workers. Both campaigns have fallen on “deaf ears” but we continue to offer advice to schools about other ways to help families who struggle with the costs of raising a child.

Specialist uniform suppliers are in the business of producing uniform which meets high quality standards and provides the children with something durable and lasting to wear. A uniform that is made well lasts longer, does the job better and offers real value for money. It will always provide better long term value over a cheaper and less robust garment.”

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Schoolwear Association issues guidance following new rules for schools on uniform

The Schoolwear Association has issued guidance to its members about “potentially dramatic” changes to the school uniform supply chain.

Following The Department for Education’s (DfE) announcement that its School Uniform Guidelines are becoming statutory, the association is advising all those involved with any part of the school uniform market to make themselves aware of the changes.

The statutory guidelines, which are expected to be in place by the end of next year, will require schools to undertake tendering before selecting suppliers for school-specific uniform. The announcement that the previous guidelines would no longer be optional has led to a rush of enquiries from schools to the association about how to respond.

David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, said: “Although we believe that schools generally make sensible and pragmatic decisions about supply, price and the balance of school uniform, we welcome the changes as we believe they will create greater certainty for schools. However, this will have an impact on the industry, and we are advising members to contact us to ensure they prepare efficiently.”

The Schoolwear Association anticipates one effect of the statutory guidelines is that schools will take more control over who supplies with more schools trademarking their badges as a part of the tender process.

Mr Burgess said the schoolwear industry was already a highly competitive marketplace but that schools and suppliers needed to be aware of areas that might be seen as anti-competitive.

He said: “The Competition and Markets Authority has said it will monitor the effect of the rules to ensure that schools and suppliers comply with Competition Law. It is important that the industry responds to this, and as an association we have promised our cooperation with the CMA.”