Call to cut ‘too-high’ cost of uniforms as children go back to school

PUBLISHED: 07:30 27 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:20 27 August 2020

Community activist Sam Murray wants to cut the cost of school uniforms. Pictures: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO/MONEYBUSINESSIMAGES/SAM MURRAY

Community activist Sam Murray wants to cut the cost of school uniforms. Pictures: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO/MONEYBUSINESSIMAGES/SAM MURRAY

Getty Images/iStockphoto

As children prepare to go back to school it’s claimed some children are missing lessons because families can’t afford the uniform.

Political and community activist Sam Murray is supporting a new bill aimed at reducing the cost of school clothing.

Ms Murray was involved in organising a school uniform swap shop as chairman of Gainsborough Community People’s Forum last year, and hopes to arrange more this year, possibly in October.

She said: “Through the swap shop, we have seen that some families simply can’t afford uniforms, and we know that some children miss school because they don’t have the correct uniform.

“This should not happen. I support a drive to make uniforms more affordable.”

The proposed new law has cross-party support after Labour MP Mike Amesbury put forward a private member’s bill which was backed by the government.

It would mean schools can specify types of clothing but not styles, so that parents are able to buy cheaper items such as shirts, trousers and skirts from supermarkets rather than a single branded supplier.

The bill had its second reading in March and is now going forward to the committee stage.

Many children will have grown out of most of their school clothes after months at home due to the pandemic, making the issue more important than ever.

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Ms Murray, an Ipswich Conservative activist, said: “The school uniform swap shop we had in Gainsborough was a success and myself and a colleague intended on taking it across Ipswich before the start of the new school year. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this could not happen.

“We do still have this aim if and when we get back to a normal way of living.

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“In the meantime, if people have school uniforms, please swap them with other parents. Not only does it save money but recycling is better for the environment.”

“I’m a single parent of two kids, so I can understand myself how tight money can be at times.

“School uniforms must be low cost, as they are there for the very purpose of giving everyone a level playing field.”

She said some parents were organising their own uniform swaps via social media while it isn’t possible to organise swap shops because of coronavirus restrictions.

Meanwhile, a survey by online price tracking website found the best-value retailer out of the six brands surveyed was Sainsbury’s, while Asda and Matalan were other good-value options.

Debenhams, Next and Marks & Spencer were higher-priced, while John Lewis came out as the most expensive in the survey by the website Alertr.

Another survey by the Made for Mums website found that Aldi and Lidl were the lowest-priced options for uniforms, but said that stocks tend to be limited, and Lidl’s can only be bought in store.

Testers also evaluated clothes for wear, wash, fit and quality, with Sainsbury’s being named as the best overall uniform retailer.

• What do you think of school uniform prices, and what is the best-value supplier? Email

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