Monday, 24 April 2017

Counting the real value of uniform


Children’s clothing is big business. According to a report recently published by analysts Euromonitor, the growth of the children’s wear market here in the UK overtook that of both menswear and womenswear last year and it is set to grow by a further 13% in the next five years to around £6 billion.

Experts say that parents are both making more frequent purchases of ‘on-trend’ high street fashion items and investing in higher-end designer brands, drawn to ranges from the fashion designer brands as well as sport brands for their children.

It’s surprising then, that the cost of school uniform is still regularly reported to be a concern for parents who then purchase the top end items for their children to wear out of school.

Research carried out by Oxford Brookes University last year showed that, compared to everyday clothing items, good quality school uniform actually constitutes excellent value.  A survey of 2,000 parents, showed that a single garment to be worn out of school could cost an average of £46.58, that’s £13.10 more than the average cost of a full primary school uniform which came in at £33.48, excluding PE kit.

Part of the problem, in our view, is that expectations of what uniform should cost has been driven by the pricing in supermarkets, who often supply uniform during back to school time at reduced prices as a promotional tool to get customers through the door. These super-markets often then move onto the next promotion (usually Halloween) while the traditional suppliers to schools offer the stock all year around and cover all the sizes so that every child is suitably clothed.

Another key factor is buying habits. Because of the seasonal nature of the school year, many parents buy all their children’s uniform in one go, often at the last minute, which can make it feel like a large purchase. This usually only happens at the start of a child’s school life and again at year 7 when children start senior school, the rest of the time it is usually replacement items and of course the quality and durability of the garments is then very important.

Whilst Schoolwear suppliers and schools are very mindful about cost, we think that parents should be thinking differently about uniform – both in terms of what they are prepared to pay for it and the way they purchase it.

After all, these are the clothes our children wear most of the time – nearly 2,000 hours a year, in fact. Why would we want to invest less in that than the clothes they wear occasionally in the evenings or at weekends?

David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association

Schoolwear Association’s Chair shares his thoughts in Education Today


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Majority of parents back uniform


We often see parents complaining about school uniform in the media.  But on the whole, parents are in favour of uniform with many seeing it as an important form of discipline that needs to be fully utilised.

Over recent years, behaviour and setting traditional standards has been rising up the agenda for both schools and parents.

In a survey we carried out with YouGov in 2012, 79% of parents who have children at a state school where uniform is required said they believed school uniform encourages better behaviour.

Teachers reported that uniform is a useful tool for communicating school values, giving children a sense of belonging, and generating discipline.  It also makes it easier for teachers to keep tabs on their pupils outside of the school gates.  They said that wearing recognisable uniform is a helpful deterrent against bad conduct in public as they are easily reportable.

Parents also felt that uniform was a practical solution for school-wear with 89% of respondents agreeing that uniform constitutes better value than allowing them to wear their own clothes and 83% saying that uniform is more convenient than children wearing own clothes.

Supporters of uniform say that wearing uniform is a ‘classical conditioning’ process which places children in the right frame of mind for learning.  When children put school uniform on, they understand from an early age, they will be going to school to learn and concentrate, rather than simply to play.

David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association says “We know that a quality specialised uniform can create a strong identity for a school. We firmly believe that school uniform is part of our cultural heritage; it provides the wearer with many benefits including a ‘clothes discipline’ and the right mindset for school. A distinctive uniform can promote an invaluable sense of community within schools, aiding security and a sense of belonging, as well as improving attendance and general behaviour. We are happy that our research has shown that teachers and parents also recognise its value for their children and want to use it to its best advantage.”
 
Ends
 
All figures, unless otherwise stated are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2239 adults.  Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th – 19th March 2012.  The survey was carried out online.  The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Back to school

Back to school 
As another school term begins so does another round of power struggles between schools trying to implement uniform policies and parents and students who have to abide by them.
What is it about school uniform that brings out the rebellious streak in many of us?  Memories of our own time in school, perhaps?! I guess none of us like being told what to do…  
But taking a minute to remind ourselves of the benefits of school uniform – for students, teachers and parents – might help us to get some perspective.
No child should go to school feeling worthless because they can’t keep up with the latest styles. Uniform is the great leveller.  In an era of status brands and constantly changing fashion trends, uniform helps to create an even playing field for children of all backgrounds.  It removes the opportunity for clothing to be used as a status symbol, freeing children to focus on their education at school, rather than what they are wearing. 
Educators say this has a beneficial effect on behaviour and attainment, which is one of the key reasons they are so keen to adopt stricter uniform policies.
Although some may criticise the cost of smart school uniform, investing in a few quality items of uniform to last the year is far more economical than buying a whole new wardrobe every term – especially one that includes branded items, such as the latest trainers.  
And, aside from avoiding the drama of what to put on every morning, maybe wearing a uniform five days a week might make students appreciate their weekend fashions more!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Autumn Statement should reduce VAT on school-specific or ‘badged’ uniform

Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, David Burgess, says the Chancellor should take the opportunity in the Autumn Statement to reduce VAT on school-specific or ‘badged’ uniform.

The Association, whose members clothe three quarters of the UK’s schoolchildren, brought an early day motion to address the issue back in 2008, claiming that a reduction in the rate to 5% could put more than £4 million back into the pockets of parents each year.

Currently, VAT is only exempt on uniform sizes deemed to be appropriate for children aged 13 years and younger.  With many children aged 11-13 years old currently larger or taller than the norm, the current arrangement ignores legitimate differences in the size or the height of children who may need to purchase sizes in the taxable range.

Another anomaly is that VAT has to be paid on the book bags and rucksacks that children need for school. We believe that if the bag has the school logo on it, then it is a school item and should not be subject to VAT.

Not only that, the rise in the age of compulsory education to 18 years means that families are now having to pay even more VAT.

David Burgess said: 

“We support the current trend for schools to move towards smarter, school-specific uniform.  Not only does this kind of dress increase a sense of pride and belonging for pupils, it also has direct benefits for improving behaviour and raising attainment.

“We believe that quality uniform is an investment worth making, we want it to be affordable for all and with the cost of living on the increase, it is more important than ever, that we do all we can to reduce costs for parents.”