Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard has called on schools to support families and cut the cost of uniforms ahead of a return to the classroom in September.
The Conservative MP says many families are under increased financial pressures this summer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and wants schools to think carefully about the pressure placed on families. Mr Maynard has written to academy trusts in Blackpool asking that, wherever possible, uniforms are made up of widely available, affordable items, rather than bespoke items from specific suppliers.
He said: “The Government is going to be bringing in new guidance on school uniform costs but we need to ensure our local schools are ahead of the game.
“I’m pleased that children are returning to their classrooms from September but do worry about the costs involved, particularly given the impact of the COVID pandemic on family finances.”
“Some schools continue to mandate that parents buy specific items which are only available from one or two suppliers. The difference in cost between these products and those available more widely, including from major supermarkets can be considerable. In families with more than one child the costs can add up to hundreds of pounds.
“Are many different branded items, from jumpers to PE kits, really necessary? Sports kits, as an example should meet the needs of the activity, but should never become something that divides rather than brings pupils together.”
Mr Maynard has also asked schools to extend the support offered to families in greatest need.
He said: “I know some of our education providers already have good policies in place. Schemes like ‘uniform banks’ can make an enormous difference, alongside broader financial support. Schools needs to ensure all parents are aware of these measures and have access to help as the normal indicators of financial difficulty do not necessarily apply.
“School uniforms are important and create a sense of shared identity. I want to ensure they are affordable to all.”