An MP is calling on schools to keep the cost of uniforms down amid rising concerns about sky-high prices parents are being forced to pay.
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue said some families face bills of hundreds of pounds to ensure their children have the right clothes for the classroom.
The average cost of school uniforms and shoes is now £134, a rise of £7 from 12 months ago, and September is now the third biggest shopping event on the calendar after Christmas and Black Friday.
That means some parents are having to resort to loans for the back-to-school outfitting period while others are resorting to previously-worn clothes.
Writing in her column in our sister paper the Wigan Observer Ms Fovargue said schools need to do everything they can to keep prices reasonable and Government should step in to limit some of the most extravagant demands being made.
Ms Fovargue said: “There are obviously lots of good reasons why most schools require a uniform. They look smart and can encourage a feeling of belonging. But perhaps most important is the fact tht students don’t have to worry about peer pressure when it comes to their clothes.
“But all this can come at a price, and an increasing one at that. The national figures are alarming too.
“The cost of a uniform has become such a burden for families that more than a million children live in families falling into debt because of it.
“Many parents rely on uniform exchanges to save money, but I am sure I am not alone in saying that no-one should have to resort to ssecond-hand for their children’s school clothes.
“Some young people are having to go to school in uniforms that don’t fit or are worn out. Others are being sent home for wearing the wrong clothes, perhaps a blazer with the wrong badge.
“This is a humiliation that no child deserves.
“Schools need to play their part. They should not insist on having only one unique supplier and should not require the logo or insignia on lots of items. Schools should be able to specify the overall look but parents must be able to shop around.
“The Government needs to play its part too, by issuing statutory guidance.”
More than 25 per cent of secondary schools now require three or more uniform items with a badge or logo, usually coming at premium prices.
Instances of schools using specialist suppliers has doubled too, preventing cash-strapped families buying some smart-looking items from supermarkets at lower prices.
Ms Fovargue said people worried about the back-to-school bills should approach their child’s place of learning for advice about supplies of donated or lost clothing or speak to a credit union which provides special loans specifically for education-related essentials.