Back to school

Ahh, the little darlings are only just breaking up from one school year and we are already being bombarded with ‘Back to School’ displays and of course, school uniforms..

I have no issue with school uniform as such. Yes, I can see that it may be designed with practicality in mind. The children are all on an equal footing (no silly trying to out-do each others on designer labels and similar such nonsense) They should feel proud to represent their school looking so smart (although my offspring always manage to look as though they have been dragged through a hedge backwards, uniform or not!)

But there is uniform, and there is uniform.

Let me explain.

At the primary school where my eldest two attended and where my four-year old is about to start in September *gulp* they do have a uniform and how sweet they look in their little owl motif jumpers. Or not. Although the school encourage you to wear the jumpers and polo shirts with their own crest on, it isn’t essential and as long as you wear school colours, that is perfectly acceptable. This of course gives parents the option to shop around and take advantage of the huge deals on the high street.

Roll on a few years and my little darlings are off to high school *gulp* And having my son there already, the uniform list may not have been a surprise, but it still filled me with absolute dread. The list they give at our high school is actually an A4 sized sheet long. I’m not kidding! Who would have thought that it was even possible to buy that much school uniform? But it is. My melting debit card is proof of it.

Yes, they need jumpers and polo shirts but they have to be from the school’s approved stockist complete with the school badges. Starting at £12 for one polo shirt, it’s certainly not cheap. And especially considering that one is no where near enough. In my experience, you need to have at least three – one on, one in the wash and one in waiting. And that’s just the start of it.

I won’t bore you with the details, as I say, the list really is exhaustive. And therefore I can’t help but think excessive? Daft things, like special socks just for hockey (you need other socks for football and non-specific PE too) Does it really matter what colour socks you have on? I can see why the school may wish to have special kits for say actual sport teams representing the school etc, but this is just for normal PE lessons!

I know how fortunate I am to be able to afford to kit my children out with the lot, but I can’t help but wonder how other families manage? And please don’t think that I am being patronizing but we are talking about hundreds of pounds here. Especially in these recession hit times, how does the school – a bog standard state high school – expect every family to be able to afford all of this uniform? And of course if your child doesn’t have the full and correct uniform, they are the ones to be punished with detentions and the like.

I don’t know, I just think that maybe it is time that some – and especially our school, had a bit of a reality check. Having such a huge uniform list that is only available from an over priced specialist uniform shop in the current economic climate, just seems ridiculous and unfair. Maybe schools need to look to overhaul their compulsory uniform lists and make them much more streamlined. Or better still, if they must adopt a recommended provider then make it a high street store offering 3-for-2 deals, rather than a specialist shop with extortionate prices! Just a thought.

8 thoughts on “Back to school

  1. Susan Mann says:

    This is a great post but I can’t comment much. I’m not at that stage yet, so not sure what the primary school my littles ones will be going to have on their list as they don’t have a nursery. Plus my schools didn’t have uniforms. Ridiculous I think, I think a uniform makes a huge difference but I understand the price point. They shouldn’t make it so restrictive. xx


  2. zico01 says:

    My daughter starts pre-school and needs uniform for september ! having pride in your scheool is important, but clothing companies are clever, they can charge what they want, because you have to have the uniform,
    wrong, wrong and wrong.
    all the best gareth


  3. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    Very much in agreement, the
    List Amy brought home was an
    A4 sheet too containing PE
    Kit. It is very silly and
    Dare I say it, unfair of the
    School to expect this of
    Every parent.
    CJ xx


  4. keatsbabe says:

    I really understand what you mean. I have a son and a daughter so there isn’t much chance of hand me downs (I did try to get my daughter to wear my son’s old polo shirts but she refused and quite honestly I saw her point). What is it with the special socks? I agree, school teams are one thing but the cost of replacing the socks my son lost in PE lessons doesn’t bear thinking about…


  5. Pass the Chablis... it's 5 pm says:

    I absolutely agree!
    I’m just in the maze of sorting out The Son’s uniform. Primary age, and needing the school’s polo shirts and jumpers (with badge!). Colours just won’t do apparently. Unfortunately for him the colours are black and yellow too. Not great.
    Even at such a young age the list is long, I’ve not yet made it to the PE kit bag list, or indeed ventured into lunch box/ book bag territory. It’s proving to be very expensive, and quite stressful!
    I’m just not brave enough to start a mutiny. So I guess I’ll just buy and grumble.


  6. Cherilyn doyle says:

    Oh i absolutely agree, the cost of uniform for secondary school is stupid, and you can only get it from either the school itself or a specialist sports shop. I have another year before my son goes to secondary school yet but i will have to start saving soon. x


  7. Mwa says:

    My son’s school’s uniform is much cheaper than that, but they also have a second hand uniform fair a couple of times a year. A lot of the stuff you can’t even tell it’s been worn before. Don’t they have one of them?


  8. Muddling Along Mummy says:

    This is the bit about our chosen school that worries me – yes we can afford the fees but the additional costs of uniform etc are crazy. Am hoping that there is a good 2nd hand store where we can pick up the pricey bits


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