Posted: 24 February 2015

‘We cannot have an unequal school life for children just because they can’t afford to pay for the terribly overpriced uniform’

This blog was written as part of The Children's Commission on Poverty. The commission was led by sixteen children aged 10-19 to uncover the true cost of school life for those living in poverty, through young eyes. Yousif was one of the commissioners who launched the report 'At what cost? Exposing the true cost of school'. 

This latest research on the true costs of school uniform really embodies the reason for why we, on the Commission, decided that the cost of school uniform was such a vital issue to focus on. This evident indication that uniforms are continuously proving to be a sensitive issue with regards to family finances and so are providing seriously negative impacts on pupil life.

It is not only difficult from a monetary viewpoint - the research that shows that many pupils are wearing wrong uniform further backs the negative stigma surrounding children in poverty in comparison with children that aren’t. We cannot have an unequal school life for children just because they can’t afford to pay for the terribly overpriced uniform. We feel that the fact that pupils look physically different just because they can’t afford uniform is a terrible thing for a child’s school life. It will perpetuate bullying and further highlight their differences. It is for these reasons that school uniform is an intrinsically vital aspect of a pupil’s life that we cannot afford to ignore for any longer. We must tackle this issue head on, without fear or reservation. This physical segregation of children based essentially on their financial capabilities is categorically wrong and must not continue any longer.

Children should not be persecuted or sent home from school for something they are helpless about. The reason why child poverty is such a troubling issue is because they are arguably one of the most helpless in our communities. They neither can decide on their situation, nor can they go out and do anything about it. It is for this reason that sending them home, separating them from their classmates and, most likely, making their parents upset, is deeply upsetting for every party involved. This horrible and insensitive practice needs to be highlight and subsequently tackled.

We often hear on the news and by various people in the media spotlight that it is the fault of parents and the way they conduct their finances if they are in a tough financial situation. The fact that school uniforms can cost up to £316 shows the realities of raising a child in an average household. It is genuinely appalling that schools and specialist retailers are exploiting the fact that they have no competition to make as much money as possible. Not only this, but the fact that uniform is compulsory, makes the process even more difficult for struggling families. 

So the fusion between compulsory uniform and specialist retailers without competition makes for a terrible equation where the result is nothing more than deep difficulty for struggling families up and down the country.

Read the report