Many families in Norwich have contacted me over recent months with their concerns about the price of school uniform. In recent years there has been a significant increase in both exclusive contracts between schools and uniform suppliers, and schools limiting the range of suppliers. There is evidence to suggest this has increased the cost of school uniform by £5-£10 per item and reduced the quality of products. This is because such contracts prevent parents from buying uniform in supermarkets where items are much cheaper. I am sending letters out to families across Norwich with a survey attached, and if you have school-age children I would like to hear your thoughts.
Schools are legally obliged to ensure that the cost of school uniform does not discourage parents from applying for a place for their child. Governing bodies of schools should be able to demonstrate how best value has been achieved and keep the cost of supplying uniform under review. Schools should keep compulsory branded items to a minimum and avoid specifying expensive items of uniform. Any savings negotiated with suppliers should be passed on to parents. I am writing to all headteachers in Norwich to seek reassurance that schools are meeting their requirements. I would like to hear your thoughts on whether this is the case.