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Citizens Advice: Parents find school uniforms more costly this year than last

School costs now putting some parents off first choice of schools

New findings from Citizens Advice on the cost of sending a child to school find that parents are spending hundreds on school uniforms. A quarter of parents will spend £100 - £150, the most common cost found amongst those surveyed.

Over two thirds of parents with a child attending an academy school will fork out over £100 for uniforms compared to half of parents at state schools.

Worryingly, some parents are now telling Citizens Advice that school costs are impacting on their first choice of school.

Citizens Advice ran an online survey from the 21st – 29th August which collected 527 responses. The survey asked parents and guardians about financial costs based on one child for this coming school year. It finds:

  • More than half said school uniforms are more costly this year than last.

  • Over sixty percent (63%) said uniforms had to be bought from specific shops.

  • Nearly a third of parents have had to save up for school uniforms.

  • Of those surveyed, the majority believe that school uniforms don’t represent good value for money.

Government guidance says schools should take into account the views of parents and pupils on significant changes to school uniform policy. Yet Citizens Advice research finds that when schools were making changes or introducing new uniforms, over two thirds of parents haven’t been consulted by the school.  

Second hand uniforms can be a good way to save parents money but under half of parents said they are not available to them at all. But for a fifth of parents the school does provide the opportunity to buy second hand uniforms.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive, Citizens Advice said:

“Back to school is breaking the bank for some families. When it comes to getting children ready for this school year, parents are finding it more expensive than last.

“Mums and Dads are spending hundreds on school uniforms, with many often forced to purchase clothing from specific shops leaving parents with no cheaper alternatives.

“Low wages and squeezed family budgets have meant that some have had to save up for uniforms, whilst others are relying on friends and family to help cover the cost.

“Worryingly, some parents have now found school costs so unaffordable it’s impacting on their first choice of school.  Costs should not be a barrier to choice. That’s why these costs need to be carefully monitored and schools need to consult more with parents, not just leave them counting the costs when it comes to term time.”   

It’s not just school uniforms that are making Mums and Dads anxious. Over a third said that school meals will cost over £250 for the school year and one in six reported transport totaling the same. A third of parents will spend up to £50 on school trips with some saying this will cost over £200.

Citizens Advice

Notes to editors:

  1. This year the Citizens Advice service celebrates its 75th anniversary. We’ve planned a year of activity running from January to December 2014. Contact the press office on 03000 231 080, or via email at press.office@citizensadvice.org.uk, to find out more.

  2. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.

  3. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.

  4. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk

  5. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers

  6. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 6.6 million problems from April 2012 to March 2013. For full 2012/2013 service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends

  7. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 22,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.

Channel website: https://www.icaew.com

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