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