Teachers' unions in Wales are united in their support of the Welsh Government’s announcement of a continuation of the uniform grant scheme.
The scheme was introduced in 2007-8 and low-income families were entitled to £97.50 for school uniforms for the school year. As of 2012/13 these families can claim up to £105 for uniforms.
Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews announced yesterday there would be £770,000 available to parents from the Department for Education’s budget for children who are also eligible for free school meals.
The scheme is specifically targeted at pupils entering secondary school and also for pupils aged 11 at the start of the school year in special schools.
The National Union of Teachers in Wales (NUT Cymru) said: “The continuation of the scheme is something to be welcomed as it helps families ensure that their children are provided with the right clothing.”
NUT Cymru stressed the importance of school uniforms to ensure school children are not “marginalised” at school by having incorrect or old clothing.
“This can have a detrimental impact on their educational performance. Issues around uniforms, free school meals and other financial stigmas often contribute to children being outcast or marginalised,” NUT Cymru said.
The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) echoed the support given by NUT Cymru.
The NASWUT said: “We welcome the decision to continue the scheme. It will assist those families struggling to make ends meet.
“This grant will assist parents and will mean children will not stand out from other students. It is a good initiative from the Welsh Government. School uniforms are important and it provide a sense of identity."
Stanwell school in Penarth charges £6 for sweatshirts, £3.50 for shirts and £8 for trousers. The Glyn Derw High School in Caerau charges £11 for sweatshirts, £9 for polo shirts and £16 for fleece jackets. Trousers are bought from supermarkets or clothing stores.
One parent, Sally Muller, 39, from Caerau said: “It’s not so much the cost. I don’t mind paying. I just don’t want to have to buy a new school uniform after a few weeks because the old one has torn.”
John Snell, 46, of Habershon Street, Splott, said: “I think it’s probably a bit too much to be honest. They should get some help because they pay their taxes but I think £105 is a bit too much.”
Education Minister Leighton Andrews said: “We know buying new school uniforms when children start secondary school can be expensive. Our uniform grant scheme has been a great success in helping low-income families provide uniforms for their children.
“I would actively encourage those families who qualify for the scheme to apply to their local authority as soon as possible.”