MP wants unbranded school uniforms to help the poor

Emma Hardy says parents who are struggling should not be forced to pay for 'expensive blazers'

John Roberts

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An MP has launched a campaign for schools to have unbranded uniforms to help families who are living in poverty.

Emma Hardy said that she had heard from families who were going hungry during school holidays who said that the cost of the uniform was what had tipped them over the edge.

And she warned that no school should discourage a pupil from joining because of the cost of their uniform.

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Labour’s Hull West and Hessle MP has now written to the Conservative contenders to be prime minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, asking for their support.

She is also calling on all schools in her city to allow pupils to wear unbranded uniforms.

In a video launching her campaign, she said: “I can’t understand the logic of asking parents of children who are already struggling to pay for expensive blazers when they can look just as smart in something that is so much cheaper.”

“No child should face the stigma and embarrassment of poverty and no school should discourage a parent from attending it simply because they can’t afford the uniform that they provide.”

In her letter to the two Tory leadership candidates, she said she was raising the issue after hearing evidence at the House of Commons Education Select Committee from families living in poverty.

She wrote: “In that hearing, we heard from parents who told us about the exorbitant additional costs for parents to buy branded uniforms from particular retailers and that it would be much cheaper if schools allowed parents to buy generic supermarket uniform for their children. 

“I understand the importance to a school of ensuring that all children are well dressed and presentable but I do not believe this requires students to dress in branded uniforms.

“Pupils can look smart and presentable in non-branded and generic school uniform items.”

Her campaign comes as it was announced that school uniforms in Wales are to become more affordable, accessible and gender-neutral.

The new statutory guidance comes into force from 1 September.

It provides advice for governing bodies and head teachers on issues relating to school uniform policy.

Governing bodies will also be expected to consider ways of keeping down the costs of uniforms, which could include stipulating basic items and colours but not styles, meaning items could be bought from more than one outlet.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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