Saturday, 20 April 2013

Frugal school uniform - not!

I went to the Knit and natter yesterday morning, and one of the ladies always has a local paper there, and we all have a read!  I was shocked to read on the front pages that the local secondary schools are Both changing their suppliers of school uniform to an online-only arrangement.  A local firm in the town has supplied both for years, and has saved my life on several occasions, when one or other of the girls has come home from school and said that they have lost an item - I have been able to dash into the shop and buy a replacement for the next day.  The shop is not expensive, and there has been some competition in that there was a shop in the other nearby town that sold our school uniform as well.

(image from 

Whilst I applaud both schools for their efforts to improve the standards of the uniforms that the students are wearing, our school has changed the uniform so that most of the items now have to have a logo on them, and are only available from this retailer online; even though there is an option to have the goods supplied to the families by a local retailer, they appear to have chosen online-only.  I think that this is misguided on so many levels:

  • no competition so parents are not protected from price hikes as and when the company feels the need.
  • no immediate source of clothing/items - items may well take several days to arrive.
  • no local source of items
  • no source of items which can be bought for cash.
  • a delivery charge on all orders under £35 
  • payment must be made by credit or debit cards so what about those people in bankruptcy arrangements who have only perhaps access to cash cards?
  • Online - so what about those people who either do not have internet access or struggle to use a computer - is there going to be support in place for those people to access the uniform?
  • the schools get support from the local community, so where is their support for their local community retailers?  I was devastated when the local book shop closed down because I had often (monthly, probably!) got them to order in books for me, and loved to browse the shelves - this could have a serious impact on yet another local retailer.
I have put these concerns in an email I am drafting to the Principal's assistant - I will be sending it in on Monday when I have had a good think about what issues to ask for clarification on over the weekend.

Update on Monday - I have sent the email and await their response...I'll let you know!


Frantic's Antics said...

I too feel strongly about this too. amazed at the prices they plan to charge..... 7.50 for a polo shirt!!!!

SarahElisabeth Jones said...

My daughter's school did something similar. We found that there were major issues about sizing. An apparently appropriate size would turn about to be about three sizes too large and it is so much more complex to return items to an online store.
The change in uniform also ruined the second hand uniform market for some time. Old uniform was unsaleable and there was no new uniform to be had second hand.

Wannabe Sybil said...

I live on the internet. If it isn't delivered then it doesn't exist - yet I think this is appalling! A quick google found 5.2 million households in the UK without internet access. The financial implications also are so hard. Thank goodness you're awake enough to think about it. Good luck! WS xxx

Angela said...

You make some really good points here. I think that sometimes busy Headteachers who do much of their shopping online with credit cards forget that many families operate their finances differently.

all the best with your email!

Morgan said...

Thanks for your support, ladies - good to know you think I am making good points as I had begun to think I was getting riled up over nothing! Sometimes the girls say I get in a tizz over things which aren't that important, but I do think this could be a big issue for some families.

Lesley said...

If you go on the DfE website and put "school uniform" into the search facility, it should throw up a good article about the governors' responsibility to ensure uniform is a reasonable price. More grist to your mill! If you email me I'll send you the link. Lesley

Morgan said...

@Lesley - Thanks. I found several pieces on the website, but I need to do a bit more research today as the school is now an academy and I need to work out whether that affects the impact the DfE guidance has on them. I'm also going to see if the minutes of the Board of Directors meetings are available on the school website.