Sep 27 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
PARENTS say they are struggling to find the money for the spiralling costs of their children’s school uniforms, a charity has said.
There is little financial support for parents who are unable to meet the cost of uniform, which is compulsory and can cost hundreds of pounds if they have to buy branded clothing from specialist shops.
Judy Watson recently waved her 11-year-old twins goodbye on their first day of secondary school at Ark Academy in Wembley.
The doctor’s receptionist said she spent more than £400 on uniform and extra on shoes.
She said: “I was shocked when I found out how much it was. I went to the open evening and saw the price list for the uniform and thought I would never be able to afford that.
“I chose the school which would be the best for my children and didn’t think I would have to consider the cost of the uniform in there.”
The twins previously went to St Andrew and St Francis Primary in Willesden where Miss Watson said the uniform was reasonably priced and parents could buy low cost essentials from supermarkets.
“I had to buy a blazer for each of them, which was about £60, and a sweatshirt, they have to have bags with the school logo on and a tracksuit for PE as well. They are running the school like a private school and not every parent can afford it,” Miss Watson added.
Miss Watson was offered help but this is believed to be a rare occurrence as Brent Council told the Observer it does not provide clothing vouchers for school uniforms and was not aware of any schools which does.
Therefore, Brent Citizen’s Advice Bureau is calling on schools to help keep the cost of uniforms down.
Jacqueline Carr, Brent CAB director, said: “We are seeing more and more families struggling with how they are going to cope with the high costs of school uniforms and kit.
“In such economically pressured times and with the numbers of academies increasing, many with expensive new uniforms, schools should help struggling families keep costs down.”
Ms Carr suggested schools could make uniforms available from a wide selection of suppliers, or offer iron-on and sew-on badges as options.
Ark Academy was unavailable for a comment.
Nationwide, more than 40 per cent of local authorities offer school uniform grants.