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Lancashire headteachers asked to help make school uniforms more affordable
6:00pm Saturday 27th October 2012 in East Lancashire
HEADTEACHERS at Lancashire schools say they already offer parents a choice of where to shop for uniforms after being asked to revise their policy on making them more affordable for parents.
The Office of Fair Trading has written to the heads of all UK schools to ask them to review their policy for the sale of uniforms.
A survey for the watchdog suggests three-quarters of England's state schools place restrictions on where items can be bought.
It said in the letter to heads that some items of uniform sold in a restrictive way could cost more than double the equivalent supermarket price.
In one example, the average price of a secondary school's sweatshirt sold under restrictive arrangements was £12. This compared with an £8 price tag at competing retailers and £5 at a supermarket chain Jacqueline Stewart, head at Rosegrove Infant School in Burnley, said the Owen Street school offers a sweatshirt with the logo on, and the opportunity for parents to buy supermarket alternatives - giving parents the choice to shop around.
She said: “As long as the children look smart and they are in the school colours, we are not precious about where the items are from.
“Children shoot up in the time they are at our infant school and parents may have to buy a couple of uniforms during the school year.”
Barbara Booth, head at Shadsworth Infant School in Blackburn, said: “The children grow all the time.
“Our uniforms do not have a logo. Our school colours - red sweatshirt with grey or black trousers - are readily available from department stores or supermarkets. It’s about letting parents have a choice.”
Nigel Dawson, head at Fearns Community Sports College in Bacup, said: “Having just one outlet creates a monopoly. We try to drive down the prices of the blazers and sweatshirts for our parents.
“As long as the pupils are wearing appropriate clothing, it’s right that we give parents a choice over where to but the uniform.”
Joss Cheatle, from Clitheroe-based Trutex, a uniform specialist, said: “Uniform has always been seen as a good think by parents and schools.
“It reduces distractions and doesn’t discriminate against pupils.
“These schools are doing the right thing by making sure the children look the same, but their parents have the freedom to source their clothes for whatever price, or quality, they wish.”
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