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95% of parents think school uniforms cost too much

Kitting out the average primary school pupil costs £255, while secondary school uniforms total about £340.

With the month of September fast approaching, parents up and down the UK are kicking back-to-school prep into high gear. For many, that involves opening their wallets. Each year, about £1.2 billion is spent by families on school clothing and equipment. That’s good news for businesses which sell blazers and fluffy pencil cases. But it can be problematic for households who are struggling to make ends meet.

In particular, there’s been a lot of criticism about how expensive school uniforms are. And because most kids are very good at (a) growing, and (b) mucking up clothing, most uniforms have to be replaced several times over. 95 percent of parents think these costs are “unreasonable”. About 16 percent said they’ve had to cut back on food and other essentials to pay for uniforms, and 13 percent said its pushed them into debt.

Some think the obvious solution is to get rid of school uniforms. But there’s concerns that will make the problem worse, by increasing the pressure on kids to wear the latest (expensive) trends. Instead, some would like schools to be less strict with their uniform policies. For instance, they could stop sending kids home for wearing incorrect uniform, which is embarrassing and disrupts learning.

Alternatively, schools could stop insisting pupils wear specifically-branded kit that is only available from higher-cost retailers, to give parents the option of getting cheaper, generic uniforms from low-cost shops and supermarkets. Or the government could step in and fund some or part of the cost for some or all families (a few councils already offer this to low-income families).

Read our explainer on: the cost of living.

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