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.”