Time was when school uniform was available from a variety of shops, allowing healthy competition, helping parents keep the costs of essential items to a minimum. Should you require a school blazer, you would be able to purchase a suitable one, in the correct colour, from any one of a number of local shops and then your mum would sew a school badge, purchased from the school itself, onto the pocket. In fact blazers were generally an optional extra, with jumpers or cardigans in the correct colour and a good winter coat the preferred option. Any apron would do for home economics, as it was then called and so long as hockey socks were a good match to the official school colour, then all was well.
But it seems that where monopolies are frowned upon in any other industry, with the Monopolies Commission coming down hard on deviants, when it comes to school uniform, it is perfectly acceptable for one shop to have the franchise for many of the schools in a given area, allowing no room for competition and forcing unacceptable levels of cost upon families.
I thought the Government was supposed to be stamping out this sort of thing.
I thought schools were supposed to be minimising the amount of school specific items making up their uniform and not insisting on parents buying hugely expensive items such as specifically designed blazers (from £25.99 for the secondary school Middle Mudlet will be starting in September), opting instead for much more cost effective sweatshirts/jumpers/cardigans bearing the school logo (approximately £7 each) and on top of everything else, we need to buy not one but two aprons. in different colours which can only be bought from the designated local uniform shop!
This weekend I’ll be taking Middle Mudlet to get those school specific items on the uniform list which will cost around £75 just for them and we’ll still have shoes, trainers, hockey boots, shirts, socks, trousers and PE bottoms to buy. All in all, excluding her school shoes, her uniform will have cost around £110 which doesn’t seem a lot, relatively speaking, until you realise that 70% of that cost will have gone on the half a dozen items from the uniform shop and the remaining 30% will have covered the other 10 or so items needed. You do the maths …… its’ shocking!