The school uniform has been a part of the British education system for a long time and has become an institution in itself.

However, the growing list of ‘compulsory’ uniform items required for children to attend school has put parents under financial strains, even more so in the last 18 months as the world continues to slowly recover from the pandemic.

The issue has parents wondering whether the lists of branded items included as part of school uniforms are getting out of hand and defeating the uniform's original purpose.

The Oxford Mail asked readers about their experiences shopping for school uniforms.

Rachel Seago, mum of two girls, said: “I have only really bought new shirts and tights since the beginning. New shoes cost £40, and they get through a pair each year.

“I also spent £80 on trainers and football boots, which were only needed for one term. It does soon mount up.

 “Current Year 7's are being asked to get outdoor trainers, indoor trainers, football boots and perhaps rugby boots plus school shoes!

“Why they can't get them as and when they need them with a warning? They play different sports each term so won't always need them straight away or if ever! My daughter grew out of her boots before she even needed them.”

On average, parents are spending more than £300 on just essential uniforms for school. This number rises even further when children move to senior school, leaving a lot of parents worried about affordability.

At around the age children attend primary school, they tend to grow quickly. This has caused problems for parents who have found themselves spending hefty amounts on uniforms that their children have hardly used.

Jen Williams said: “Stop the companies producing school-branded clothing from charging extortionate prices or allow parents to buy plain uniform items and add school logos/emblems themselves.

“The uniform was introduced to 'level out' kids from various backgrounds and that doesn't work if only high-income families can actually afford to buy it!”

While some schools in Oxford welcome supermarket uniforms that can be adapted with the correct branding, others don't offer that option and instead prompt parents to buy uniforms from specific shops. This has killed fair competition completely, leaving parents frustrated at the lack of options, said Kirsty Dare.

She said: “What I don’t understand is how the government allows the schools to give exclusive rights to a single company to provide uniforms, thus not allowing any competitors or comparison for the consumer.

“It’s an elitist attitude to just assume everyone can afford branded logo uniform! But they can’t.”

What makes matters worse, parents claim, is that the quality of these expensive branded products is nowhere near worth the price.

Samantha Jane, whose son is in secondary school, said: “The quality is shocking! The complaints were raised and most parents never got replacements even when they were promised.

“PE joggers that were £25 lasting less than 6 weeks! Ties £10 falling apart and wonky logo on them, blazers look like they had been sown together in a back ally for 1p....”

Costs not being justified through quality, a lack of cheaper alternatives and a long list of compulsory items are the reasons behind growing displeasure among parents in Oxford and it is time for schools to actively resolve these concerns.

How much are you spending on your child’s uniform? Do you think the costs are justified? How long does your child’s uniform last on average? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Got a story to tell about school uniforms? Get in touch via