School uniform shopping costing parents ‘well over £200’ each child.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

UNIFORMS for children attending local secondary schools are costing parents well over £200 each, it has been claimed.

The biggest expense is proving to be PE kits with branded indoor and outdoor trainers hitting parents in the pocket.

And for parents of several children the costs are hiking up. In a straw poll on the Outlook Facebook page, parents remarked on the crippling costs of sending their children to school equipped to school standards.

All agreed uniforms cost more than £100 per child with Rathfriland mum, Tina Moffett writing that the "cost seems to soar every year".

She remarked that it would be helpful if schools could rethink basic items so they could be purchased from supermarkets more cheaply than from specialist stores.

Meanwhile, Majella Kelly estimated the cost of kitting out her four girls will run to £800 with school meals and other start-of-term expenses to follow.

Citizens Advice who run a service from Banbridge and an outreach in Rathfriland has found that a quarter of parents will spend £100-£150.

Government guidance says schools should take into account the views of parents and pupils on significant changes to school uniform policy.

Yet Citizens Advice research finds that when schools were making changes or introducing new uniforms, over two thirds of parents haven't been consulted by the school.

Second hand uniforms can be a good way to save parents money but under half of parents said they are not available to them at all. But for a fifth of parents the school does provide the opportunity to buy second hand uniforms.

Gillian Guy, chief executive, Citizens Advice said: "Back to school is breaking the bank for some families.

When it comes to getting children ready for this school year, parents are finding it more expensive than last.

"Mums and dads are spending hundreds on school uniforms, with many often forced to purchase clothing from specific shops leaving parents with no cheaper alternatives.

"Low wages and squeezed family budgets have meant that some have had to save up for uniforms, whilst others are relying on friends and family to help cover the cost." It's not just school uniforms that are making mums and dads anxious.

Over a third said that school meals will cost over £250 for the school year and one in six reported transport totaling the same. A third of parents will spend up to £50 on school trips with some saying this will cost over £200.

Grants to help with buying school uniforms for certain categories of pupils are available from the Education Authority (EA). Who qualifies for a grant is decided in a similar way to free school meals.

The Education Authority South Eastern Region can be contacted on 028 9056 6319.


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