CASH-STRAPPED parents have faced footing soaring uniform bills as their children return to school.
Rebecca Blake, Labour’s Parliamentary spokeswoman for Redditch, has launched an investigation into the costs after increasing complaints from residents about the costs following the summer holidays.
She said the national annual back-to-school bill was estimated at £156 for primary school children and £285 for senior school pupils, while the main concern for Redditch parents seemed to be the cost of shoes, blazers and PE kits.
“Too many families across Redditch are struggling to make ends meet. That’s why I’m asking local schools to undertake an immediate review of their uniform and equipment policies.
“They should involve the parents who have to foot these bills, often for more than one child at a time and ask them what changes they would like to see.”
Winyates mother-of-two Sam Beech said getting school uniform was a ‘dread’, adding the clothers were very expensive and there ‘should be a way of easing the pressure on parents’.
Sharon Harvey from Southcrest added: “As a mum of three school-aged children, I have no option but to be as frugal as possible when buying school uniform.
“Even with careful spending with most items from the supermarket, some secondhand, and some items kept from last year I spent nearly £250 on school uniform over the summer holidays. I would rather have spent this on days out with the children.
“My main gripe is the amount of items which must have the official school logo. I’d really like schools to consider the extra expense this forces onto families.”
Jo Cottle, deputy headteacher at Trinity High School, said pupils had been directly involved in updating the uniform through the Student Voice Forum with parents also consulted.
“We have negotiated a very competitive school uniform package price which is considerably cheaper than in previous years.
“We are mindful of the fact there is such a burden on parents but we do in the interests of constiency encourage parents to purchase the pack.”
She added uniform was provided for all new starters eligible for free school meals and assistance was provided for existing pupils on a case-by-case basis to try and help those families with limited incomes.
Guy Shears, RSA Academy Arrow Vale headteacher, added: “We are sympathetic to the needs of our parents and the financial costs they face.
“For the past three years we have supported our parents by purchasing the blazer, tie and PE kit.
“By significantly reducing the burden, this allows parents to stagger costs across the three years.”
Visit www.rebecca4redditch.org.uk/campaigns_page to give feedback on uniform.