Out-of-school clothes cost North-East parents more than uniforms

School uniforms are good value for money, says The Schoolwear Association.

School uniforms are good value for money, says The Schoolwear Association.

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School uniforms cost North-East parents just 36p per day on average, and the real drain on many family budgets is what children wear when they’re not in school, according to new research.

The back-to-school uniform shop is almost upon us, with parents rushing to pick up their children’s outfits for the new term.

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.

David Burgess, The Schoolwear Association

For some, it may be a grudge purchase, but new research by Oxford Brookes University reveals the average secondary school outfit in the North East comes in at a modest £71.80 - or just 36 pence per school day.

When the costs of PE kit is added, the total averages £113.

But a poll of parents shows they typically spend more on outfits their children wear outside school than they do on uniform, with almost half dressing their children in high street and designer fashions.

The average non-uniform outfit came in at £125.39.

The Schoolwear Association, which represents all those involved in the manufacture, retail and supply of school-specific uniform, commissioned the research to find out the average cost of a full school uniform bought when a child starts a new school, alongside a survey of parents by OnePoll which looked at what children wear when they are not in uniform.

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 last more than a year, particularly blazers which are typically the most expensive uniform item.

“We completely understand that for the poorest in society, uniform is a significant expense, but most schools have arrangements in place to help, and many of our members contribute to those schemes by providing free uniform for those in need.

“Most parents can afford to buy their children’s uniform, and like teachers, they agree that quality, school-specific uniform contributes to better education and behaviour.

“It is a worthwhile investment, and we believe every child is worth it.”

Lynn McBain, consultant researcher at Oxford Brookes University, said: “School uniform has a modest cost, especially given the amount of time children spend wearing it, and almost certainly represents better value than non-uniform clothes.

“The cost to parents is relatively small when you weigh up the usage it gets and the added benefits it provides, which include pride in appearance and a sense of belonging to a school.”

The research puts the average price of a full primary school uniform in the North East at £27.65, with secondary school uniform at £71.80. Adding PE kit put the figures up to £32.40 for primary and £113 for secondary.

The Schoolwear Association points out that on average schoolchildren wear their uniform for 10 hours a day, nearly 2,000 hours a year, but parents spend more on clothing that their children wear less – only during school holidays, weekends and in the evenings.

On average, families in the North East shell out £63.99 per child on outfits for the six-week summer holidays.

The most expensive individual non-school uniform garment costs on average £48.38, more than the cost of an entire primary school uniform.

Four out of 10 parents in the UK buy branded clothing such as Jack Wills, Ralph Lauren, Nike and Hollister.

Half shop at Next for out-of-school clothing, where a similar outfit to the Schoolwear basket researched by Oxford Brookes - two T-shirts, a pair of tracksuit bottoms, jumper and a pack of socks - for a teenager costs around a third more than the average secondary school uniform.

The school uniform basket the research investigated consisted of two polo shirts or shirts, one pair of trousers or skirt, one sweatshirt and a pack of five pairs of socks for the primary school uniform.

The secondary school uniform basket included two shirts, one tie, one pair of trousers or a skirt, one sweatshirt or cardigan, one blazer and a pack of three pairs of socks.

Established in 2006, the Schoolwear Association is a voluntary body of members including suppliers, retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers whose members collectively clothe more than three-quarters of Britain’s schoolchildren.

Its Code of Practice requires members to ensure that garments are produced in an ethical manner, both in terms of employment and attitude to the environment.