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  1. ITV Report

Rising price of school uniforms putting some parents in debt

Families in the West Country are spending more than £300 on secondary school uniforms it has been revealed.

With the start of a new term many parents are living in fear of the rising costs, and many believe it is unfair for schools to insist uniforms are bought from specific outlets.

School uniforms can range hugely in price and quality.

Tia Skuse from Bath has just started secondary school - in total her uniform so far has cost £215.25 - with more still to come.

On average a parent in the West Country pays around £313 for a secondary school uniform, and £200 for a primary one, the Children's Society has found.

£313
The amount on average a parent in the West Country pays for a secondary school uniform.
£200
The amount on average a parent in the West Country pays for a primary school uniform.
Tia's uniform has so far cost a total of £215.

With two children starting new schools, Tia's mum Lucy has spent seven months saving for their new uniforms.

It just adds that pressure I think, you have to get it, they have to have it. It's a lot of money, for us it's a lot of money and we're both working parents and it's hard for us so I just assume it's only harder for people who are struggling.

– Lucy Skuse

The Children's Society say many families are getting into debt as a result of the cost of school uniform, or cutting back on basic essentials to afford it.

In some cases they say they have seen children sent home from school as a result of families not being able to afford the uniform.

School uniforms can often only be bought from select suppliers.

So how do these schools and outlets justify the cost?

Independent stockists, schoolwear specialists do tend to manufacture products which are designed to last.

They're built with strong structure in terms of stitching, construction inside the garments made from hard wearing fabrics which are designed to wash and wear and give real value to parents over time.

If you look at it over the period of time it's used, often multiple years, then the cost, that cost for a garment that's warn day in day out, is not really that expensive.

– The Schoolwear Association

Help is available for those who need it - some schools offer free uniform pieces such as a sweatshirt or polo shirt.

Some parents have also taken matters into their own hands.

Kate France set up the Uniform Exchange to help families who were struggling with the cost of basic items.

She collects thousands of donated pieces of uniform - and washes, irons and repairs them for families to re-use. Saving them hundreds of pounds.

She said: "So far we've helped about 900 families, We get families who are struggling or we have those who really like the idea of recycling."

The Uniform Exchange to help families who were struggling with the cost of basic items.