For parents of children going to secondary school in September, buying uniform is likely to be high on the list of priorities to sort this summer. But, it’s certainly not cheap these days.
What’s more, every school requests something different, so there’s now a huge variation in pricing for compulsory school uniforms across Bristol depending on where the child attends.
Across the whole of Bristol, our research into the prices of each individual compulsory garment for all 25 state secondary schools in the city shows that there is a considerable variation in what parents are expected to pay for uniform.
Whereas one school may have multiple compulsory branded items, other schools have little to no compulsory branded items and leave the opportunity to shop for generic listed items at different high-street or supermarket outlets.
Many of the 25 schools now ask for blazers, which adds a considerable cost to the total for uniform. As one of the most expensive state schools for uniform on the list of 25, Montpelier High School asks for branded blazers, and offers two options.
One more expensive option costs £64.75, while a cheaper option is available at £33.75. Bristol Brunel Academy, however, asks for a simple plain black blazer so there is the opportunity to buy a non-branded item.
In fact, Bristol Brunel Academy comes out as one of the cheapest for uniforms in Bristol due to branded items being non-compulsory.
Two of the other cheapest schools, Ashton Park School and Bedminster Down School do not request embroidered blazers. At Bedminster Down School, black sweatshirts are listed from £10 and polo shirts from £9.
At Ashton Park School, school logo polo shirts range from £9.25 - £13 depending on size and school logo jumpers range from £13 - £21.50 depending on size.
As one of the most expensive on the list, however, St Bede’s Catholic College requests much more from its compulsory branded uniform.
For girls, they are asked to wear a specific Trutex Harrow grey 2 pleat skirt or the True Harrow grey girls twin pocket trouser from the school’s supplier.
It is also requested that they have a blazer, which is navy with the woven badge and a fine-knit ‘V’ neck navy pullover with the college crest.
These are suggested to be bought from the specified supplier, with blazers starting from £36.70, sweaters from £21.00 and trousers from £18.
Branded PE kits
Another big discrepancy in cost for parents is caused by the fact that many schools now ask for compulsory branded PE kits, too, so the compulsory items don’t stop at the everyday uniform.
Because of this, some parents are unable to simply pop to their local Asda to buy, for example, plain shorts or a plain polo shirt.
At St Bede’s Catholic College for PE, parents are asked to purchase a white/red polo shirt embroidered with St Bede’s logo and navy shorts with the logo, too. In addition, it’s asked that children only wear the school tracksuit with the college crest.
At Redland Green School, all PE kit is to be embroidered with the school emblem, including the hockey socks.
The cost of the branded compulsory PE kits varies significantly with requested t-shirts for Bristol Metropolitan School starting from £16.00 and at Ashton Park School costing from £16.25-£20.50.
At Bridge Learning Campus, it’s compulsory to wear a specific navy Aptus high-performance PE kit, which can only be bought from their supplier. This costs £25 for the t-shirt, £9.25 for the shorts and £8.50 for the socks.
In comparison, Bedminster Down School simply asks for a house PE polo shirt starting from £7.50. Even cheaper, St Bernadette’s Catholic School PE t-shirts start from £5.10. The rest of the kit can be bought from elsewhere. This is the same for City Academy in Easton, which only asks for one branded PE item.
Although not always compulsory, another big difference in cost for parents arises from there being more branded items available for boys than girls when it comes to PE kits.
Recommended for boys only at Brunel Academy are the branded rugby shirts, or at Bristol Free School they recommend rugby shirts for boys or quarter zip pullovers. At Redland Green School, rugby shirts are compulsory for boys only and start at £22.75.
Although nearly all of the schools across the city note the cost of living crisis and allude to their commitment to keeping costs down on their websites and information pages, some schools make this a lot clearer than others.
Cotham School, as an example, makes it incredibly clear on their uniform information page that second-hand uniform is always available to purchase for £1 per item from reception.
Depending on whereabouts in Bristol you live, parents payments for school uniforms across a child’s school years can look very different.
For parents who need help financially, Bristol City Council offer grants to help parents, which can be applied for here.
Low income parents are eligible, and the money is given in the form of supermarket vouchers to help with budgeting for uniforms.
They can be spent on food, school uniforms, shoes and stationery.
Today (August 5), the council said it was dealing with 570 claims.
A spokesperson said: ““The payment comes in the form of a supermarket voucher and can be used in all main supermarkets. The vouchers can be used to purchase the basic provision of school uniforms, especially for infant and primary school children.
“Although the vouchers cannot be used to buy branded school uniforms directly, the vouchers can be used to buy food and other essentials. By alleviating food poverty, the aim is to help families budget for branded school uniforms.
“We encourage low income families who need help purchasing school uniforms to apply for support on the council’s website.”