The National Education Union (NEU) are calling on boards of governors in Northern Ireland to review and amend their school uniform policies in light of rising inflation and household bills that are stressing local family finances.

NEU argues that families are struggling with household bills as a result of increasing food, fuel, energy bills and rising inflation, all of which are putting pressure on household budgets prior to the new academic year as parents and carers are facing the purchase of new uniforms, P.E kits, trainers, and school shoes.

Danielle Black, regional officer at NEU stated;

“Uniforms should be a leveller but are a significant cost pressure for parents at this time of year. Branded and specialised uniforms place unnecessary financial pressure on families, when similar cheaper options are available in supermarkets and the high street.”

“The solution is not complicated, with the current cost of living we need to reflect on the costs associated with education. In addition, many schools continue to unnecessarily prescribe different clothes for girls and boys which prevents clothing being passed on to siblings, and stops some pupils being able to participate fully in their education.”

“This stance on uniforms deny our pupils, mainly girls, of comfort, choice, practicality and reinforces unfair gender expectations. Families from different ethnic backgrounds may prefer a longer skirt or trousers for their daughters, and for practical subjects and the primary play based curriculum trousers are a more sensible option for all pupils. Governors should also consider SEN children and transgender or gender non-conforming youth. The main goal is for every child to feel a sense of security and belonging at school.”

NEU have campaigned that overpriced logo uniforms should be scrapped for generic but colour schemed options. While we welcome the Department of Education’s recent announcement that the uniform grant will increase by 20% this year, branded uniforms are becoming increasingly impractical and unaffordable in the current climate and school leadership should review their policies urgently to ease the burden on families.

ENDS

If you would like more information please contact Danielle Black or call 075877 78668