THE Children’s and Education Minister has pledged to make school uniforms ‘more affordable’.
Following three months of research, the Jersey Competition and Regulatory Authority have published their report on the affordability of school clothing.
The estimated value of the school uniform market is £1.6m, and the JCRA study found that a high proportion of schoolwear items were branded and compulsory, and therefore could impose additional cost on parents.
Moreover, the school uniform market was restricted to only three main retailers, leading to parents having reduced choice when buying uniforms.
The report comes amidst findings that Jersey’s inflation rate remains at 12.7% – the highest figure since the 1980s.
The JCRA has recommended that the government should consider policy in other places, including the UK, and that schools should conduct regular reviews of all contracts and supply arrangements for uniforms. The UK government issued guidance in 2021 to make uniforms more ‘affordable’, asking schools to keep branded items ‘to a minimum’, make second-hand uniform available and to ‘take a mindful and considerate approach’ to financial hardship.
The JCRA said it also planned to work with the government to develop more specific guidance on the design and operation of competitive tenders for school uniforms.
In response, Children’s and Education Minister Inna Gardiner has pledged to work to make school uniforms more affordable for parents.
‘School uniforms provide pupils with a sense of community and identity and act as a social equaliser. However, I’ve been concerned about cost and committed to reducing it since coming into office last year.
‘I have written to all head teachers today to ask for their support and suggestions on how we can develop guidance to make sure that school uniforms are competitively priced,’ she said.
‘I’d like to thank the JCRA for this study, which gives us a good factual background that we can build on.’