At this time of the year many parents are having to splash out on new school uniforms which appears to be a big expense, but is the perception true?

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

Think about this - because it's less expensive than a child's casual outfit school uniform are actually saving money by buying it.

Research conducted for the Schoolwear Association shows that a typical out-of-school outfit costs more than the average school uniform. Typically, parents spend an average of £113 on an out of school outfit compared with £88.05 for uniform - that's 45 pence per school day.

David Burgess, Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, explains: "The cost of school uniform often comes in for criticism, but this is never compared to the cost of clothes that children would wear if they weren't in uniform. Not only is it less expensive on average, we know that quality, school-specific uniform has a positive impact in the classroom environment. This new research shows it can also have a positive effect on parent's pockets too."

He pointed out that many retailers, suppliers and schools offered parents the option to pay for uniform in instalments.

Research for the Schoolwear Association by Oxford Brookers University showed the average secondary school uniform coming in at £88.05 based on a basket of two shirts or blouses, a pair of trousers or a skirt, a sweatshirt or cardigan, a blazer and three pairs of socks. A typical primary school uniform compiled of similar items cost parents £33.48 on average. That compared to £113 for a basket of children's clothes, as revealed in a survey conducted this summer by OnePoll for the Schoolwear Association, which asked 2,000 parents how much on average they paid for out of school clothes.

The survey showed that among popular brands for out of school wear include Nike, River Island, Adidas, Superdry and Topshop/Topman.

The Schoolwear Association points out that on average schoolchildren wear their uniform for ten hours a day, nearly 2,000 hours a year.

The Schoolwear Association, whose members collectively clothe three quarters of British schoolchildren, believes that every child deserves to wear a high quality school uniform, and that parents should not have to struggle to make this a reality. The organisation will use this new data to challenge criticism that uniform is expensive, a claim that is often based on poor research or untypical examples.


1. North East (£125.39)

2. Scotland (£123.10)

3. London (£121.12)

4. North West (£116)

5. West Midlands (£114.58)

Established in 2006, the Schoolwear Association is a national body of members including suppliers, retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers whose members collectively clothe more than three quarters of Britain's school children. 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.

Eight things you didn't know about school uniform

1. Three quarters of British children wear uniform supplied by the Schoolwear Association whose members sign up to a code of conduct including ethical overseas manufacturing

2. Leading behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings says that good quality school uniform prevents bullying and aids learning 3. Surveys show that the vast majority of parents and teachers prefer a school-specific uniform rather than off the shelf school clothing 4. Independent garment tests show that good quality uniform from independent suppliers is less likely to stretch, tear or shrink than cheap supermarket alternatives 5. Two thirds of teachers say children behave better at school if they are in uniform 6. Independent suppliers make a commitment to schools to stock uniform all year round for all sizes unlike chain stores 7. By using a competitive tender, schools can still ensure competition and value while having a single independent supplier who will guarantee consistent uniform colours and quality 8. The Schoolwear Association campaigns to make school uniform even more affordable through a school uniform voucher scheme, encouraging instalment programmes and support for the poorest parents.

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