Statutory Guidance on School Uniforms Needed - Gemma Brolly
Aontú Education Spokesperson Gemma Brolly demands statutory guidance on school uniform costs. While she welcomes the Education Minister's recent announcement of a 20% increase in school uniform grants, this is not the long-term solution that is needed.
Brolly states "On Monday 20th June 2022, the Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen, announced a 20% increase in school uniform grants for low-income families. When preparing their children to return to school, parents reported spending £131 on primary school uniforms and £177 on post primary uniforms according to research carried out in 2020. This 20% increase in school uniform grants will cost £1.04 million but it will do very little for those in need. The cost of a Primary School Uniform will only decrease by £7.15, if you include the cost of a PE uniform for a child under 15, the saving is only £14.60 per child and and £15.60 including PE uniform for children over 15.
Brolly explains "While this grant may assist low-income families in meeting some of the cost of school uniforms, there is absolutely no assistance available for struggling families who not eligible for this grant. These families have been hit by the cost of living crisis, many are struggling to fuel their vehicles, pay their ever-increasing bills and feed their families. Why have these families been completely ignored over and over again?
"Statutory guidance on school uniform costs has been in place since 2019. Surely we can adopt a similar practical approach that would benefit everyone, regardless of socio-economic background. We need a simple system that stipulates a dress code and colours and not brands or styles. This would make items much more affordable and accessible while allowing families to avoid high cost items such as blazers."
"Aontú believes in economic justice for all members of society. No more token actions. We need long-term, practical solutions such as adoption of statutory guidance on school uniforms, by a fully functioning government. Our people deserve better."