Parentkind research found that the cost of school uniforms tops parents’ concerns when it comes to the affordability of sending a child to school. Our 2019 annual parent survey revealed that 46% of parents nominated uniform costs as a concern, rising to 58% among those with lower incomes. The issue came higher than any other financial burden. Not only that, but 76% of parents agreed that the cost of sending children to school is increasing, and more than half (51%) were concerned about meeting those costs. We presented the worrying findings to government in response to consultations. In light of that, new legislation aimed at reducing the cost of school uniforms is warmly welcomed, and will make a big difference to parents in England when they are managing their household budgets.
The Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill has been given Royal Assent. It was introduced by Labour MP Mike Amesbury and attracted cross-party support, including from Schools Minister Nick Gibb. Its effect should see schools keeping branded items to a minimum, allowing parents to opt for cheaper supermarket alternatives. This will make uniforms more affordable by law and avoid any uniform supplier having a monopoly on parental custom.
John Jolly, the CEO of Parentkind, says, “We are delighted to see this legislation passed which will make a big difference to parents. The bill comes after we have been tracking and reporting on the increasing financial burden for parents of sending a child to school for some time. It’s great to see policy-makers sit up, take note and make real, practical changes to help parents in response to evidence about their budgeting worries. Our surveys have shown that school uniform costs top parents’ concerns, especially where it is more of a stretch for them to make ends meet. This bill will be especially welcomed by the most disadvantaged families, and those who have struggled the most during the pandemic. Parents also tell us they want to have a say and be consulted on issues that directly affect them, and school uniforms certainly falls into that category. It’s now essential that parents have access to clear information from schools about how the changes will affect them and when they will be introduced. Our Blueprint for Parent-Friendly Schools is the perfect framework school leaders can use to ensure a great parental engagement strategy is embedded within their school. It’s the perfect time to implement it now that schools will soon be looking to inform parents about changes to their school uniform policy.”
Parentkind’s Annual Parent Survey 2019 was conducted online by Dynata (formerly Research Now). Respondents were recruited through their UK panel and took part in the survey from 12th June to the 3rd July 2019. It involved a sample of 1,500 parents from England (1,200), Northern Ireland (100) and Wales (200) who have at least one child aged 4-18 attending state school.