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Council Chair responds in ‘branded school uniform’ row

Councillor Tracey Taylor, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s children and young people’s committee responds after yesterday’s report that a councillor said that making parents pay for ‘branded’ school uniforms was ‘utterly ridiculous.’

Councillor Tracey Taylor, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s children and young people’s committee, said: “No child should suffer or miss out on their education because the school’s uniform requirements are too costly.

“I am pleased that the government has asked schools to help families save money on school uniforms, with new legally-binding guidance requiring schools to make uniform affordable for all.”

Councillor Daniel Williamson (Ashfield Ind) criticised schools which say children must wear uniforms branded with their logo or emblem at an increased cost to parents compared with generic plain school clothing.

Cllr Williamson said he had written to councillor Tracey Taylor (Con), Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Children and Young People Committee, asking her to write to relevant schools asking that they remove the requirement.

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The committee discussed the council’s ‘exceptional payments’ scheme for school uniform and footwear during a meeting on March 7.

It gives money to families struggling to afford school uniform in exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional circumstances are defined as “families who have experienced and can demonstrate severe hardship which has resulted in the family being unable to afford the cost of school uniform and where this affects the ability of the children attending school”.

This includes families who have lost clothes in a fire, a flood, theft or have been made homeless or are fleeing domestic violence.

Outside of the meeting, Cllr Williamson raised concerns over schools which insist on branded uniforms, which are often more expensive, during the cost of living crisis.

He said: “We have a massive cost of living increase and utility bills are soaring. There is no real wage increase to match it.

“We end up in a desperate situation where parents are paying for something with a little emblem on it for five or six times the cost of unbranded uniforms.

“It’s about a child’s access to education rather than their appearance. You should be presentable but not at a cost of your ability to learn.

“The real impact is the unbearable cost on parents.

“Families are making choices between eating, heating or a lovely shiny blazer.

“There is a massive undercurrent of people whose families work 40 hours a week but they still have to go to food banks. Paying £25 for a skirt or trousers is utterly ridiculous to me.

“If we have the clear message that education is more important than how we look that will benefit children in the whole of the county.”

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