‘It’s a rip off’ - parents hit out at £120 PE kit cost at One sixth form

Sports kit available to purchase for One students

Sports kit available to purchase for One students - Credit: Archant

Parents have hit out at the biggest sixth form in Suffolk over the almost £120 cost of PE kit.

Students studying PE at One, formerly Suffolk One, in Ipswich, are being asked to buy the sportswear which consists of a polo shirt, jacket, tracksuit bottoms, shorts and a water bottle.

But last night sixth form bosses admitted communication on the issue had been a problem – as the minimum a parent needed to spend on kit was £40 for a pair of shorts and training top.

Samurai, the sports clothing manufacturer used by One, lists a ‘compulsory kit bundle’ on its website for £118.99.

Mark Blackburn, whose son Will, 16, started on a BTEC sports course this month, has complained to the sixth form.

He said: “The government forces youngsters after 16 to go to college and sixth forms – it’s supposed to be free but the PE kit is £120 – whatever happened to a free education?

“What do the children actually need? I would have said £50-60 – half of what they charge for a PE kit would be acceptable.”

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Parent Steve Wain, from Ipswich, claimed the price was a “rip-off”.

“We were not told anything about it at all, we went to various open evenings – last October no-one mentioned the cost, we went to another event a couple of months later and no-one mentioned the cost.

“We went to another presentation Q&A and no-one brought it up. When we challenged this we were told it was in the prospectus which we looked through but couldn’t see anything about it apart from on a football course page which isn’t relevant to my son.”

A spokesman for One said parents were “strongly encouraged” to purchase the whole kit and that it was common for sixth forms to charge students for sports clothing. He added this year’s kit was of a better quality than 2014’s which cost up to £85.

“We want to ensure that our students are prepared for the professions for which they are being educated, and the only students who are strongly encouraged to purchase the entire kit – which totals £118.99 – are those students on the BTEC sport extended diploma,” he said.

“These students are on a dedicated course and we want to ensure they are protected from the elements as the majority of time is spent involved in sport activities outside.

“We have offered a payment plan for students and a bursary fund is available where some students may be eligible for financial support in order to purchase their kit.

“For all those officially representing One in team sports against opposing schools and sixth forms, official team kits are provided.”

A spokesman for Norfolk-based Samurai said: “Whilst we as the manufacturer don’t set the retail prices, we recognise that this improvement in quality has come at an added overall cost but this will be offset by the improved durability, quality and life-span of the garments.”

The sixth form celebrated an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted inspection in June.