Monday 19 January 2015

Making Good Quality School Uniform Affordable For Parents

A few months ago I was invited by members of the Schoolwear Association to go to the Rowlinson Factory in Stockport and find out about how much effort and care goes into good quality school-specific uniform, and how they want to make it cheaper and easier for parents to buy that uniform.

My Child Is Worth It The Schoolwear Association

I've been a parent of school aged children for more than 15 years now, and I have 14 years left before my youngest leaves school. That is a heck of a lot of uniform, a heck of a lot of money, and I've never been well off, it's always been very important to get best value.

The Schoolwear Association represent all of those who are involved in the supply of school-specific uniform - the distributors, manufacturers, retailers and everyone else. It is a voluntary organisation and everyone involved gives their time to ensure:
  • Best value and quality
  • Prompt delivery of uniform for Britain's schoolchildren. 
  • Shops pledge to supply you with uniform for local schools in any size you require. 
  • Schoolwear Association members also sign up to a Code Of Practice outlining ethical and fair trading.

 Schoolwear Association members clothe 3/4 of Britain's schoolchildren.

I've been tempted in the past to buy cheap sweaters and to sew my own badge onto a cheap blazer, and I've been 100% unimpressed. The quality is just not the same. Jumpers bobble and the wristbands fray quickly, the colour fades and within a few weeks wear they look tatty and tired. The blazer fell apart within 6 months. It might have cost half the price, but I got what I paid for, and I haven't done it again. Scarily I also have no idea how it was made, who made it or what conditions they were working under, or what pittance they were paid.

Rowlinson textiles warehouse
The Rowlinson Factory stores school uniform in every size and colour,
ready to embroider and ship in 24 hours
I've learnt the hard way that buying cheaper uniform rarely saves money in the long run. Good quality uniform can last for a year or two - more for a Blazer or P.E.Kit, but the initial outlay can be incredibly expensive, especially when you have several children to buy for.

Emroidering a school badge onto a sweater
Each badge takes several minutes to embroider,
and even this simple one has 6 colours.
The Schoolwear Association want to make it easier for parents and carers to be able to afford to buy their children well-made uniform. They're campaigning for a scheme similar to the Childcare Vouchers scheme, where parents exchange a small amount of their monthly salary in return for Schoolwear Vouchers. With the School Uniform Voucher Scheme salary given up would be tax exempt, so for every £1 you would have taken home, you will get approximately £1.25 in vouchers.

Spreading the cost plus saving the tax on that income can really help those who need it most, and would otherwise be stuck in a cycle of buying replacement cheaper, lower quality uniform all year round.

In order to get the scheme running, The Schoolwear Association need the Government on side, and so they have an online petition which you can sign and it'll take you just a minute.

Every signature will help put the message across, and even if the target isn't met, it still adds extra weight to the debate.

I wasn't paid to promote this petition, I think it's a good thing.


  1. This is such a great idea. At the moment we only have one uniform to buy, however, it won't be long until we have three in school and I have no clue how we will afford good quality uniforms. I am off to sign the petition now!

    1. Yep. You don't notice it quite so much with one child, but you totally will with 3 - but we've managed to 'hand down' pretty much all of the jumpers and blazers :D

  2. This is very interesting! Off to sign,

    1. Cheers Eileen! It is very useful - especially once they get to senior school!

  3. What a great idea. Will go sign & share x

    1. I've always been annoyed at paying tax on big school uniform, at least this would cushion the blow a bit! :)

  4. This is such a good idea. I find the cost of decent school uniform shocking, and you're right, buying cheaper versions never works well. Will sign the petition

  5. This is such a good idea. I find the cost of decent school uniform shocking, and you're right, buying cheaper versions never works well. Will sign the petition


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