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Labour councillor asks Island MP to support suspending school uniform rules

Richard Quigley, Councillor for Cowes North (front), and Island MP Bon Seely (back).
Richard Quigley, Councillor for Cowes North (front), and Island MP Bon Seely (back).

UPDATE

AN ISLE of Wight Labour councillor is calling on schools to suspend all uniform rules until the country is on the other side of the cost-of-living crisis.

Whilst we are still enjoying the summer, some parents will already be worrying about the return to school in September, says Richard Quigley, councillor for Cowes North.

Suspending the rules would relieve the stress ‘niggling away at the back of their minds’.

Cllr Quigley said: “Not only is the process often not the easiest, but the cost is something that causes serious worries for parents.

“Uniforms averagely cost over £300, 1.1 million children are in families that have had to cut back on spending on food and essentials in order to afford uniform.

“This was bad enough before we entered a cost-of-living crisis.

“The rise in interest rates will put pressure on rents and mortgages too.”

In 2020, a bill passed through parliament making schools prioritise cost when selecting a uniform policy, but it does not set limits.

Cllr Quigley says he imagines many schools will not have had the chance to make a meaningful dent in the costs.

He continued: “I, therefore, ask, unless they have another way of removing the cost pressure, that schools voluntarily suspend all uniform rules until we are the other side of this crisis.

“I’m largely in favour of uniform in normal times, but as our government keeps telling us, we aren’t in normal times.

“Then, the other side of this crisis, there needs to be explicit guidelines around maximum pricing of uniform.”

Richard Quigley is asking Island MP Bob Seely to back his request, saying it has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with people able to look after their families.

Update 08.35 Friday, August 5.

Bob Seely told the County Press: “The Government has put in place a very significant, £37 billion package of support to help families. I have no doubt it will do more in future.

"I would encourage families to look at the support on offer in the first instance. If they need help, I would encourage them to write to me or seek advice through Citizens Advice Isle of Wight.

"In addition, there are other options for families needing additional help to purchase secondhand uniform, either through an arrangement with the school or via other parents.

"I would encourage parents to explore these options and speak with the school in the first instance, if they need assistance."

Responding to Cllr Quigley's call to him, Mr Seely said: “Uniforms are there for many reasons; safeguarding and shared ethos to name but two.

"Doing away with school uniforms is a foolish and ill-considered idea.”