Tuesday, 16 August 2016

UNIFORM AT BEST STATE SCHOOLS WON’T DRAIN PARENTS’ POCKETS, SURVEY SHOWS

It may be difficult to get your child into a top state school but affording the school uniform isn’t, reveals a new survey by the Schoolwear Association, whose members together help to clothe three-quarters of Britain’s children.

All of the top 20 state schools in England insist on a uniform, and the majority also stipulate a blazer and tie.

The study carried out by the Schoolwear Association reveals the average cost of a complete outfit in these schools is less than £107 - just 54p a day per school year, and even better value when you consider that items such as blazers and ties will last for more than one school year.

David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, said: “We see more and more schools and academies upgrading to smarter and better quality uniform, and we want everyone to see it as a worthwhile investment in our children’s futures. This new research shows that good school uniform is great value, especially when compared to the cost of the branded clothes many children wear out of school. Most parents and teachers agree that good quality, school-specific uniform contributes to improved learning, better behaviour and increased child safety. We know the cost can be significant for hard-pressed families so as an industry, we’re working with schools and spearheading initiatives such as school uniform vouchers to help. We believe every child is worth it.”

Researchers looked at England’s top 20 state schools ranked by 2015 GCSE results, and added up the cost of compulsory, school specific daywear outfit items – which may include a blazer, jumper, cardigan, trousers, skirt, kilt, shirt, tie, socks or tights but not sportswear. Additional, non-school specific items may be required to complete outfits. 

Prices in the top 20 state schools range from £29 at Newport Girls High School, which only stipulates a school specific shirt and jumper or cardigan, to £188 at St Michael School, which stipulates a school specific blazer, shirt, skirt/kilt and a jumper or cardigan.

The Schoolwear Association points to previous research by Oxford Brooks University that showed a children’s designer sweatshirt costs more than £46, which is more than the cost of an entire primary school outfit.


Mr Burgess added: “Responsible specialist schoolwear suppliers provide quality products at competitive prices with a mix of school specific uniform items and generic garments to create a smart look at an acceptable price. They work closely with schools, and we have recently produced a guide to school uniform for head teachers and governors to help them to get best value from uniform, including how to carry out competitive tenders with suppliers.”

Thursday, 4 August 2016

SA MEMBER STEVENSONS IN TRIATHLON CHARITY CHALLENGE

We're frequently amazed by the generosity of our members. Often, this takes the form of support for schools to help disadvantaged families afford top quality school uniform for their children. On other occasions, we've donated surplus stock to children in some of the world's poorest countries. Many members make donations to charities and support them with fundraising events. Here's just one example.

Six employees at Schoolwear Association member Stevensons are taking part in The London Triathlon to raise money for Brainwave.

The team, which includes Joint Managing Director John Stevenson, is hoping to raise £3,600 for the charity which helps children with disabilities to achieve greater independence. The children they work with have a range of conditions including autism, brain injuries, such as cerebral palsy, and genetic conditions such as Down’s Syndrome.

The Olympic distance triathlon comprises a 1500m swim, a 40km cycle ride and a 10km run.

Gavin Cocksedge, Business Development Manager at Stevensons and Schoolwear Association Member, comments: “Brainwave is such an important charity to more than 600 children and their families.  We hope that our fundraising efforts will help Brainwave continue to provide amazing care for children with disabilities and raise the profile of such a worthwhile charity. I wish all of ‘Team Stevensons’ well during what promises to be a tough Triathlon.”

To donate, please click here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Stevensons-Uniform or you can donate via text, using code STVN65 + the amount you want to donate (e.g. £10) to 70070.

Stevensons is one of the largest independent school uniform and schoolwear providers in the UK, serving over 350 schools nationwide.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

STAY POSITIVE POST BREXIT, SCHOOLWEAR ASSOCIATION CHAIR ADVISES MEMBERS

Be brave and positive. That was the message of our Chair David Burgess to executive members meeting in Manchester.

"It's a scarier world post Brexit but we all have to be brave and remain positive," he said. "We have a new Prime Minister, of course, and a new Education Secretary, Justine Greening, who has sensibly said that she is going to look at the strategies her department currently has in place before she changes anything."

He said: "Whenever there is a big change, there are lots of opportunities, and that is what we have to look at. There are downsides, such as the exchange rate that will mean prices rise but as the Governor of the Bank of England has said, there is not enough information about what will happen post Brexit to make a sensible decision about the future. There are a lot of possibilities. As an industry, we have to make sure we do a great job this year, to make sure we deliver in retail and manufacture and all areas. There are all the signs that it will be a good back to school period this year, and we have to make sure we deliver quality and value to parents. We know from a Department for Education survey that eight out of ten parents are satisfied with the arrangements for uniform at their children’s schools, and we must all work to ensure that continues."

Our public affairs lead, Matthew Easter, said Brexit was likely to delay the implementation of a Treasury bill that would see the government guidelines for schools on specifying uniform become law. In discussions with the Department for Education before the referendum, he learned that they were awaiting a Parliamentary slot to begin the process that would be the Autumn at the earliest before that happened.

"Post Brexit, the chances of getting a slot are diminished because of additional legislation that will now be necessary," he forecast. The fact that the uniform legislation was part of a bigger Treasury package of measures covering insurance, banking and mobile phone charges meant it would be subject to lobbying from a large number of affected industries which would likely further delay the process.

Another complication was that the legislation could be affected by EU law which might no longer be applicable after Britain formally leaves.

Executive member Donald Moore forecasts that price rises as a result of the falling value of the pound would not be passed on wholly by suppliers to retailers, and that retailers would not pass on all of their increased costs to customers, shielding consumers from the full effect. That is what happened after the 2008 crash, he said, leading to lean times for the industry. "You won't see a 20 per cent price rise in store just because the pound is 20 per cent weaker against the dollar," he added.


Meanwhile, we are planning talks with associations representing head teachers and governors to put the case for good quality, good value, school-specific uniform and its benefits in improved learning, better behaviour and child safety.

SMARTER SCHOOL UNIFORM ACTUALLY SAVES PARENTS MONEY


With more schools opting for smarter quality uniforms including blazers and badges, the Schoolwear Association says the trend will actually save parents money.

Garment testing that showed high quality school-specific uniform out-performed low-cost off-the-shelf school clothing in durability and long life.

Our Chairman David Burgess said: “For hard-pressed families, school uniform represents real value, especially when compared with the outfits children would choose to wear when they are out of school. In fact, it can be even better value than these figures suggest because many items of quality school wear last more than a year, particularly blazers which are typically the most expensive uniform item.

"Most parents and teachers agree that quality, school specific uniform contributes to better education and behaviour. Therefore, it is a worthwhile investment, and we believe every child is worth it.”

In years gone by, traditional school uniform looked like it might be declining, as modernising education trends led some schools to dress down their uniform or do away with it altogether. But smart traditional school-specific uniform has made a comeback with many schools transforming into academies and upgrading their uniform as a strong visual message of change.

But uniform still represents great value for money, as research by Oxford Brookes University for the Schoolwear Association shows that a school uniform costs on average just 45p per school day, and the real drain on many family clothing budgets are outfits children wear when they are not in school. Research showed one individual garment to be worn out of school, such as a designer sweatshirt, could cost an average of £46.58, that’s £13.10 more than the cost of a full primary school uniform, excluding PE kit.

As children enjoy their summer holidays, we urge parents to purchase uniforms for the next school year now in order to avoid the annual back-to-school panic. This will ensure that there aren't any last-minute problems, especially if there are any special requirements, as this will give suppliers time to resolve them.


Thursday, 14 July 2016

SA Responds to Daily Mail

In response to this article published on 14th July: “Lidl steps up school uniform price war with £3.75 outfit”, we wanted to emphasise that although we recognise that price is important, it is a false economy to choose the cheap option.

There are real benefits if you are willing to pay a little extra for a good value product and service. A uniform that is made well does the job better and offers better value because it lasts longer and looks the part, with all the benefits that we know uniform brings in behaviour, learning and safety.

If uniform isn’t durable and looks scruffy or doesn’t match, it doesn’t do the job properly. Going for the cheapest option may also come with a hidden price tag, at the expense of the environment or the conditions of the workers who had to produce it.

It is a misconception that school uniform is expensive. Our research shows that school uniform costs on average just 45p per school day per child. We strongly believe every child is worth it, and we know teachers and the majority of parents agree. The real drain on many family budgets is the clothing children wear when they are not in school.

We advise schools and parents to work with specialist suppliers to find the best value uniform for children. Making good decisions at the outset will always provide better long term value than simply opting for the cheaper option on the shelf.


David Burgess, Chair of the Schoolwear Association