Uniform consultation response
Many thanks to all the parents/carers who took the time to share their views with us. Around 15% responded: while this is very much a minority, nonetheless it gives an insight into parents’/carers’ thoughts, especially those who feel strongly about uniform. The many messages of support are gratefully received.
As you would expect, a range of views were put forward. A few themes emerged:
- The majority of respondents were content with the current arrangements for the blazer, jumper, tie and shirts.
- A number of respondents commented on the current arrangements for trousers and/or skirts, with comments on cost, fit and material.
- Several respondents commented on the cost and suitability of the PE kit, particularly the reversible top
- There were also a number of comments about footwear rules, generally arguing for the definition to be broader
- Some issues were raised around the current uniform supplier.
- There were some comments about the Eco Laundry, generally very positive but with some suggestions for improvement.
- A few respondents would prefer no uniform or a much more casual dress code.
Selecting a supplier
We are in the process of selecting a supplier to provide uniform from September 2023 onwards. The current supplier, Keal Teamwear, will be invited to apply, alongside other local suppliers. Feedback from the parental survey was used to shape the selection criteria and has been passed onto the prospective suppliers.
Selection will be based on:
- Value, quality, durability, flexibility (e.g. of fit, adjustment) and sustainability of uniform items
- Ease of trying on, selecting and purchasing items
- Availability of stock
- Customer care
The scope of the contract will be based on the mandatory items of uniform, although suppliers will of course be able to offer their own generic items (e.g. white shirts, PE shorts).
Trousers and skirts
Several respondents were concerned about the initial outlay for the current trousers and skirts; some were persuaded of the longer term value, others less so. Many of these would prefer parents/carers to be able to buy from a range of outlets in the expectation that this would allow them to obtain better value. There were also comments around the quality of the fit, especially for diverse body shapes and a smaller number around the material (mainly that it is too hot in summer).
Although the most common point raised, the responses suggesting changes to the arrangements for trousers and/or skirts still represent a small minority (less than 10%) of parents/carers, and not all parents/carers raised the same points. We didn’t feel this was a strong or clear enough pattern to overhaul an arrangement that seems to be working well for most people.
Instead, we’re focusing on selecting a standardised offer that gives parents/carers the best price and value without compromising quality, durability, adjustable fit and green credentials. We will also look into how to make it easy to identify that clothes are from the agreed supplier without disproportionate additional cost of branding. This way, we hope to get something that is broadly comparable to the best the High Street has to offer* whilst still being as straightforward as possible: everybody knows exactly what to buy and what to wear.
*Note that, whilst there was some variation in opinion, most respondents seemed persuaded that the cheapest supermarket clothes were of questionable quality and sustainability so didn’t represent good value in the longer term.
The comments suggested the PE kit could be simplified and the need for the only mandatory item – the reversible top – should be reconsidered. A further review of PE kit is planned over the coming months to make sure it is as suitable and economical as possible. For now, PE kit won’t be included in the tender specification for the uniform supplier.
Comments around footwear are noted, although this was not intended to be a major part of this consultation, since it does not relate to an item from a specified supplier. We’ll continue to review our position on footwear to make sure the rules are as clear and the footwear is as suitable as possible.
Praise for the Eco Laundry, which is reliant on the dedication and goodwill of volunteers, is most gratefully welcomed and we will take on board comments, for example about making it as easy as possible to trade in items in good condition.