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School Uniform and the cash-strapped mum

For many UK parents it’s half term this week. Ours began on Friday with a trek home with five children in tow – only 3 of them my own, the other (and best-behaved) two went home later that evening.

As we walked I somehow juggled untold numbers of bags – 3 packed lunch boxes, 3 book bags, 2 sets of PE kit and 2 bags belonging to the friends. Add in 3 water bottles, my keys, my iphone and a spare hand for the 4 year old and you begin to picture my disarray.

Now I like walking to and from school. For one thing it save me loads of cash that I’d otherwise be spending on fuel, but it also means that there’s a massive potential for lost items. The keen-eyed amongst you will have noted that I was only carrying 2 PE kits. The 9 year-old was carrying his own. Except that somewhere en route it got lost which means that unless it miraculously turns up – it won’t, we’ve retraced every step – then we need to go out and buy a completely new kit for Monday. So that’s;

Tracksuit – probably less than a tenner if I shop well
Shorts / T-shirt / Socks /Plimsolls – at least £20
New pair of trainers - £25

£55!! On items that have to stay at school and be used exclusively at school!

And that’s the point generally with school uniform. One of the main theories behind the whole idea of uniform is that it works out cheaper for the parents, and at a time when most of the leading supermarkets sell uniform at rock bottom prices it’s certainly not expensive, but that means I’m constantly replacing it because it’s shoddy and cheap. I’d much prefer to send my children to school in jeans, trainers and a sweatshirt every day – utility clothes that are designed to take the strain a little.

At a rough estimate, I’d guess that I spend a minimum of £200 per term on school uniform. That figure breaks down to:

School Shoes – at least one pair each a term: £100 (minimum)
Trainers / Plimsolls (and they have to have both!) – averages out at £50 per term
Uniform (Polo shirts/trousers/shorts/skirts/dresses/cardys/jumpers) - £60 - £100 per term
Incidentals, eg socks, waterproofs, gloves etc - £30- £50 per term

So every term I’m spending a minimum of £250 on uniform, and that’s before we start thinking about ‘home clothes’. I expect my children to change out of their uniform as soon as they get home, so we’re working 2 sets of clothes a day. It’s no wonder my washing pile is the size it is!

Isn’t it time that more schools considered revising their uniform policy? Would it not make it easier on cash-strapped mums-like-me?

Wednesday, 1st June 2011

Tags:   Parenting  /  children  /  school  /  cash  /  Uniform
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