The Inhibitive Cost of School Uniforms – Is the Badge on the Pocket Breaking the Bank?

There has been an interesting debate on British television recently on whether it is reasonable to ask parents to spend huge amounts of cash on school uniforms.

Most schools designate a particular retail outlet, where parents might purchase uniform items exactly to requirement. Parents often choose to divide their purchases between the designated shop and the local stores where a cheaper version of certain items are on offer, but even these economies sometimes prove inadequate when certain vital items retail at over thirty pounds.

For instance, a school blazer is often the deal breaker, as the item may not be copied by cheaper chain stores; most blazers carry an embroidered badge on the breast pocket. A grey skirt, however, or a navy blue pullover, is easy enough to find in a cheaper line.

The interesting comparison in cost comes when you add up the price of a uniform purchased in a designated shop, at a cost of well over one hundred pounds and sometimes more, with the more economical and almost unidentifiable copy costing around forty pounds.

Children undeniably look great clad in a smart uniform with buttons and badges in all the right places, but are we really spending this much in our effort to turn our children out in uniformed splendour? Surely parents could better utilise this cash by purchasing a better home computer, printer, screen, books – anything rather than this silly waste of financial resources.

I do not completely discard the idea of uniform as undesirable, in fact I believe uniform is a good idea as it saves parents investing in fashion items for their kids. It also promotes the concept of team spirit in sports and projects the school more attractively on public outings. I do wonder, however, whether we might do better by putting a ceiling on the amount of money that should be spent on what is, fundamentally, surface appearance.

Most schools have a school badge. Surely it is acceptable to manufacture this badge in large quantities and sell them at a reasonable price through the school shop or office. The badge might then be sown onto jackets, caps, sports shirts and sweat shirts ad finite, instead of designating a particular store for multiple items at an inflated price. Even better, perhaps schools might donate part of the profits to subsidise uniforms for those who genuinely cannot afford to buy them.

There are hundreds of resourceful economies to be made in the design of a school uniform, if school governors would only step down to ground level and agree to let go of outdated uniform policies. Some school management personalities see such compromise as the thin end of the wedge, of course, and staunchly refuse to relinquish their iron grasp on their schools image statement. I would dispute their antiquated approach and would encourage all schools to indulge in the spirit of a little practical economy.