NI school uniforms survey - August 2021

Research from Parentkind and PEG shows that parents are, each year, 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 also reveal that 94% of parents are concerned about school uniform costs, which was not restricted to low income families, with 88% of households earning £55,000 or above also expressing concerns.

9 in 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 18% of families say that it has seriously impacted their health and wellbeing.

Parents also value a greater say over school uniform policies, with 92% agreeing that parents should be consulted on all proposed uniform changes and about satisfaction with school-approved uniform suppliers.

Parents also indicated strong support for a number of solutions that schools could adopt to help reduce costs, with 9 in 10 backing options such as selecting blazers that can be hand or machine washed, allowing the school logo to be attached to plain uniform items and having some level of quality assurance around the uniform’s durability.

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 we would encourage policymakers and schools to also look at creative options to reduce the cost burden on parents that could be implemented quickly, such as empowering PTAs to establish pre-loved school uniform exchanges or making school logos available separately so that parents can fix them to plain-coloured clothing items.

“What this research shows is the importance of communicating with parents and the value this can bring in terms of helping to identify solutions and knowing that the overwhelming majority of parents would be supportive of schools adopting these measures."

Read the full report on Northern Ireland school uniforms here.

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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