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Uncategorized

Parents angry over ‘ridiculously expensive’ school uniform prices in deprived Nottingham area

today24 June 2022 1

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Parents living in one of the most deprived areas in Nottingham say they are struggling to replace outgrown branded uniforms amid rising living costs. Families living near the Park Vale Academy, which is part of the Redhill Academy Trust, are not happy with what they say are “ridiculous” school’s standards which require the pupils to wear branded items.

This comes at a time where many are struggling to pay for food and basic needs, as living costs increase rapidly. For parents in Top Valley, the money spent on branded items – instead if using cheaper supermarket equivalents – is likely to only add more pressure on household spending.

Jason Cormes, a builder on Skye Road in Top Valley, said: “I have two children at the moment, so the costs of branded uniforms for both would add extra pressure. They are too little to go to secondary school, but I am just worried about that.”

READ MORE: Parents in Hucknall say many families need to prioritise food over branded school uniforms

The 46-year-old added: “I just would not be happy if I was told that I have to pay £20 on a branded skirt, when I can get the same thing from Tesco for £5. They outgrow it really quickly too.”

Parents are particularly frustrated with paying more for branded skirts and trousers, which cost around £20 a piece. Scott Wheeldon, an HGV driver in Top Valley, has three children who attended the Park Vale Academy.

The 47-year-old added: “I think that buying a blazer is all right because it makes them look smart. But I do not understand the trousers.

“You only pay for small logo that you cannot even see. And you have to buy multiple ones because you have to wash them as well.

“It is ridiculously expensive. I think the school should understand that some parents are struggling as it is.”

He went on and said: “Petrol and everything else is going up. Why would you pay £20 for a pair of branded trousers that you can get from any other shop for £5? It is just very strange.”

The school website lists boys and girl trousers ranging from £17.95 to £20.95 for one pair. Girls’ skirts are the same price.

The Park Vale Academy website states: “The wearing of a uniform makes an important contribution to the tone and reputation of the academy. We like students to come here looking smart and business-like and ready to work. Wearing a uniform also solves the problem of what to wear. There is a hardship fund available to support families with uniform purchases.”

Parents at another Nottinghamshire school have set up a petition calling the leadership to remove its requirement for pupils to wear branded skirts and trousers. It comes after the government has introduced a new statutory guidance, advising schools to “keep the use of branded items to a minimum.”

Jenny Rosenbaum set up the petition calling for the Carlton Academy, which is part of the Redhill Academy Trust, to remove the “bizarre” requirements which “are not fit for for modern education at all”. The 46-year-old from Mapperley added: “They are requiring the branded trousers and skirts that are around £20 a pair. It is just a standard pleated skirt with a tiny one inch badge on.

“And then the trousers, again around £20, and they just outgrow them really quickly. There are many parents who are not happy with the costs of PE either. Why can’t they just wear a standard PE kit?

“They run it like a dictatorship. It is bizarre and it is not fit for modern education at all. At the moment, if I sent my children to another school I would be paying less. If I moved to Sheffield I would not have to pay for it because many schools just got rid of uniforms. So the whole point of that policy is nonsense really.”

She added: “I just think there should be some middle ground. It is really sad that they just do not listen to us.”

Caroline Newson, also a parent at the same school, 42, added: “The trousers and skirts are quite expensive to buy. The children outgrow them very quickly.

“You end up buying two a year, and two sizes. You can buy as many as six a year. It is so unnecessary because you are only paying for them to be branded basically.”

She added: “We are both working parents and we still find uniforms so expensive. Other families must be really struggling.

“It would be nice for the school to acknowledge that these are really difficult times for parents. It is really unfair.”

According to the newly-introduced statutory guidance, families will save money on school uniforms from next year, following new legally-binding guidance published on November 19 requiring schools to make uniform affordable for all. The Department for Education (DfE) cost of school uniform guidance means schools in England must ensure that school uniform costs are reasonable, and parents get the best value for money.

The government expect schools to be taking steps to update their uniform policies in time for families buying uniform for this September, and to be fully compliant by September 2023. A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have put in place new, legally binding guidance for schools to help make school uniforms affordable for families. This requires schools to keep the use of branded items to a minimum. Schools should engage with parents and pupils when they are developing their school uniform policy.”

In a statement to Nottinghamshire Live, Richard Pierpoint, Executive Head at The Carlton Academy, said: “The academy uniform was introduced in 2016 after consultation with parents, students, and governors. It has proved to be a high-quality solution and standards are supported by parents.

“We offer a first-class support package for parents who identify as in need, including a swap and preloved service run by a team of volunteers from our PTFA. Students are very smart at school every day, this enables us to focus on supporting them in making progress in school and not spending time asking parents to change items they have purchased in the open market, as we used to every day before the changes were introduced.”

Park Vale Academy and the Redhill Trust have been approached for comment.

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