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The Politics of School Uniform

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The school uniform debate reignited last month with the OFT writing to thousands of states schools calling on them to review their uniform policies to allow parents to shop around for cheaper items. This debate isn't new.

More than 75% of parents across the UK are forced to spend their hard earned cash on extortionately priced school uniforms when sensibly priced options are readily available on the high street and in supermarkets. It's high time that the issue was seriously addressed for parents across the nation who are forced to dress their children in costly uniforms and not given the choice of affordable options.

Supermarkets have, over the years, become a favourable destination for all back to school shopping needs, providing the convenience for mum to buy all the things she needs in one go. Mums tend to search online for the best bargains available and then order to collect in store for added convenience and as a result Asda has seen a huge rise in its Click & Collect service over the last few years.

Having said this, it is not all about seeking out the cheapest option. Mums still want serious quality and our research has highlighted that quality actually comes first and foremost, above bottom-level prices and saving the most money, mums priority is choosing items that are well made and will last the school year.

What is interesting is that independent suppliers are selling items at prices as far as 2,500 per cent higher than supermarkets. Posts on our social media sites have revealed a lot of dissatisfaction with the quality of items bought from specialist retailers. Stories of loose buttons, shoddy stitching and having to replace items a number of times were noted and yet parents have no choice but to buying these below quality, expensive pieces over better quality items available elsewhere.

At George at Asda we have been working hard to raise awareness of this pressing issue as it's clearly something that parents across the nation feel so strongly about. Last week's news from the OFT is a victory for common sense and was backed by over 5,500 Asda customers on our social media sites.

With family budgets tight, we are urging schools to adapt and drop the 'old school' uniform policies for one that is more modern, takes into account the current climate and offers democratic choice for parents on how much they need to budget for their children's uniforms. What we should look to is for schools to work with their local communities and supermarkets rather than costly independent suppliers.

Mums are looking for as much help as they can get when it comes to shopping for school uniform. Our research has shown that 80 per cent of mums are after deals and more affordable options such as two pack polo shirts and discounted or multi pack offers. A blazer with a school badge can cost over £70 from an independent retailer versus £10 from a supermarket for exactly the same blazer minus the badge.

This year we supported an Asda mum who set up a Government e-petition on this issue. This has received huge support and it has encouraged much discussion amongst our online community.

We need 100,000 signatures to secure a debate in the House of Commons, which will send a clear signal to the Department for Education that something needs to be done to tackle this important issue.

Show you support by adding your signature to the petition today at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/37371