PARENTS have called on Oxfordshire schools to keep uniform prices down as they struggle to equip their children for the new school year.
They have been backed by Abingdon and District Citizens’ Advice Bureau and the Local Government Association.
It comes as two Oxfordshire schools – Cheney in Oxford and Larkmead in Abingdon – prepare to launch a new uniform.
Year 7 to 10 pupils at Cheney School will need a new jacket – priced at £25.95 to £34.74 – and optional cardigan or jumper, which costs from £16.95 to £23.94.
But the school will give the jacket free to pupils who receive free school meals, and other families can apply to the school’s access fund.
Headteacher Jolie Kirby said: “We are aware of costs and when we were changing the uniform it was one of the criteria we looked at very carefully.”
Pupils can buy the remainder of the uniform from any supplier, while the jacket and blazer must be bought from Runcorn-based Sportswear International online or by telephone.
Mrs Kirby said the embroidered jackets were chosen for durability and had only a £6-£7 difference to plain blazers, while the old burgundy sweatshirts, which she said were about £8 cheaper than the jacket, can continue to be worn for PE.
Parents were mixed in their responses.
Judy Raven, who has two children at the school, said: “The blazers are very expensive and there have been some problems with fitting.
“But in terms of bringing in a school uniform I think they have made concessions and helped parents on lower incomes.”
Only Year 7 pupils at Larkmead School will have to wear its new uniform this year, with all other pupils except Year 11 expected to change by September 2013.
Children were given a brief to help design and source a uniform – with a total cost of under £80.
Larkmead head Chris Harris said: “We have done everything we can to try to spread that cost.”
CAB manager Anne Groom said: “We want schools to make uniforms available from a wide selection of suppliers, or offer iron-on and sew-on badges as options.”
The Local Government Association has also called for schools to keep costs down.
SOME EXAMPLE UNIFORMS...
Cheney School students need a grey embroidered jacket (which must be bought from a specified supplier at a cost of up to £34.74 including VAT) and can also buy a jumper or cardigan from the
same supplier, priced at up to £23.94.
They need long black trousers or black skirts or a shalwar khamiz, a plain white polo shirt with a collar and black shoes, which can be bought from any supplier.
Larkmead School’s uniform consists of a black and gold tie, priced at £9, and a grey or black cardigan or v-neck sweatshirt, which cost £16.50.
To add to this they need a white shirt, black trousers, black shoes, a waterproof outdoor coat, an apron for art and design and technology.