Schools and stores lay laws down on uniforms policies

Nigel Mann among school uniforms at Mann & Co, Spalding.
Nigel Mann among school uniforms at Mann & Co, Spalding.
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Headteachers and traders have defended their stance on school uniforms after a Government minister accused them of exploiting parents’ pockets.

Schools Minister David Laws is issuing new guidance to schools in England on the policy of uniforms to help parents find the best deal and stop the soaring cost of buying clothes for their children.

An Office of Fair Trading investigation last year found that parents were paying between £5 and £10 more for blazers, sweatshirts and skirts because of exclusive contracts with uniform suppliers.

But schools and suppliers in South Holland claimed they were already offering value-for-money, as well as help for parents on low incomes.

Nigel Ryan, headmaster of Spalding Grammar School, said: “We believe a school uniform is important because it not only sets the right tone but also makes everyone equal and clearly creates a sense of belonging and community.

“Parents like it as it saves any arguments about what to wear and removes the pressure to spend lots of money on the latest fashions.

“I do understand that some school uniforms can be expensive, but I would suggest that shirts, trousers and shoes are not only a lot cheaper than ones from fashion designers which students will be under pressure to wear, but also last much longer so providing good value for money.”

Nigel Mann, of Mann and Co, Spalding, which supplies uniforms for the school, said: “Within most areas of retailing there will always be the ‘price is more important than quality’ view, but we believe in good quality at the right price for our schoolwear.

“David Laws’ comments underline this as it is often false economy to buy cheap.”