94% of NI parents are concerned about the cost of school uniform


New poll finds that parents are, on a yearly average, spending £173 per primary school child and £378 per post-primary school child on school uniform, PE kit and footwear.

Responses from 1415 NI parents reveal that a large majority are negatively impacted by the financial burden of school uniforms and want to have a say about uniform policies in schools. Results representing 2771 children also reveal that more than 9/10 parents are concerned about school uniform costs. 

The Parentkind research undertaken in partnership with Parent Engagement Group (PEG) found that 9/10 parents additionally worry about needing to purchase new school uniform items including footwear throughout the year due to their child’s growth spurt. When it comes to the impact on family budgets, almost three quarters (73%) say that purchasing school uniform places financial pressure on their family, and out of those respondents, three quarters (75%) say that this financial pressure has negatively impacted upon their health and wellbeing. But parents also want more say over school uniform policies, with 92% agreeing that parents should be consulted on all proposed uniform changes and about satisfaction with uniform suppliers.

Parentkind fully supports parents’ wish to be consulted about uniform policy as well as on other areas of school life that directly impact on them. The charity calls on schools and policymakers to listen to parent voice on the cost of uniforms and make parents part of the solution. 

Jayne Thompson, Parentkind’s Head of Northern Ireland explains, “Our research has shown that many parents have real concerns about the cost of school uniforms at a time when household budgets across all income brackets are tightly squeezed, and they need immediate support. We are pleased that the Department of Education is looking at uniform grants, but to provide quick solutions, we seek to work with policymakers to help schools implement creative options to reduce the cost burden on parents. Such initiatives include empowering PTAs to establish pre-loved school uniform exchanges for which there is clearly a parental appetite. Such schemes not only assist families in managing their budgets but also help to reduce the community’s carbon footprint. Another great idea supported by 84% of polled parents is for school logos to be made available separately so that parents can fix them to plain-coloured clothing items. We encourage all schools and PTAs use creative solutions in reducing uniform costs for parents.”

Spokesperson for Parent Engagement Group Naomi McBurney said, "We are delighted that so many parents took the time to complete the survey. This is an important issue for families in Northern Ireland and PEG, in partnership with Parentkind, is delighted to have provided the opportunity for so many to be heard on this important issue."

About the Research

Methodology - Parentkind/PEG Northern Ireland School Uniform poll

 A short online survey, promoted to parents via social media, was active between 12th and 20th August 2021. 1415 parents completed the survey. Please note percentages may not always add up to 100% due to rounding. 

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