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.”

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