Schools warned over uniform costs
Schools have a "moral responsibility" to keep the cost of pupils' uniform down, council leaders have warned.
Hard-pressed parents should not end up forking out for expensive uniforms because their child is attending a new free school or a converted academy that is "rebranding" itself, the Local Government Association (LGA) said. It says that families do not have an "endless pot of cash" for new uniforms and is calling on schools to keep costs to a minimum.
Recent figures show that more than half of England's secondary schools have now converted to academy status, and around 50 free school are due to open from this September. Twenty-four free schools opened in 2011. Free schools are new schools set up by groups such as parents, teachers and charities.
The LGA said that schools which decide to alter their uniform - for example a newly converted academy that decides to change its emblem - should restrict changes to one or two items or to sew-on logos.
It says that the average secondary school uniform now costs over £200, with primary school uniform setting parents back £160. Sports and PE kit as well as other school items cost extra.
Councillor David Simmonds, chair of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said: "In the current education landscape dozens of schools across the country are changing their names or identities. It is understandable that many will want to mark this, but they need to remember that parents do not have an endless pot of cash for new school clothing.
"After already forking out for a whole new uniform when their children started primary or secondary school the last thing parents want to hear is that they will have to foot the bill for entirely different uniforms, sometimes just 12 months later.
"Headteachers have a moral responsibility to minimise any additional costs that occur because they change their name or status, for whatever reason. That can be achieved by staying close to an existing colour scheme, changing one item only such as a tie, or allowing parents to sew new badges and logos onto clothes.
"Offering uniforms from a number of retailers and making it easier to attach logos to widely available clothing also lets schools keep their individuality while bringing in the necessary competition to keep costs down."
The LGA suggested that in order to keep uniform costs down, schools should choose clothing that is widely available, choose logos or emblems that can be bought as sew-on or iron-on patches, pick a colour scheme rather than a full uniform, give parents the opportunity to buy and sell items and use a plain PE kit that can be used for different sports.