Parents backed in uniform price row

By Victoria Hallifax in Education

COUNCILLORS have signed a letter of objection concerning proposed changes to Monmouth Comprehensive School’s uniform policy.

The letter, signed by six county councillors from Monmouth wards, has been sent to the school’s chair of governors, Vicky Smith.

They claim to have been promoted to take action after each being contacted by “a number of concerned and anxious parents”.

Councillors are urging the school to reconsider plans to change the uniform from September, to one which limits buyers to one supplier for the majority of items, raising costs to around £200 per single set including PE kits.

The restrictions have caused an outpouring of frustration from parents, as the school insists on regulation blazers listed on priced up to £53 for larger sizes, trousers and skirts priced up to £25 and £23 a pair, as well as PE kits up to £95 for a set. The prices are listed at the online uniform shop, despite initial claims from the school that sets would cost £100.

Councillors Ruth Edwards of Llantilio Crossenny ward, Mat Feakins, of Drybridge ward, Richard John of Mitchel Troy ward, Laura Jones of Wyesham ward, Richard Roden, of Dixton with Osbaston and Jamie Treharne of Overmonnow ward recognise proposed help to families on free school meals, but say the help doesn’t go far enough: “We welcome the uniform change and recognise the consultation with students in agreeing the new uniform. Despite the fact that students eligible for free school meals can receive a school uniform for free, we remain concerned about the impact of these changes on families on low and middle incomes.

“We feel that for trousers and skirts, parents should have a choice of more than one supplier, including high street retail outlets, in line with Welsh Government guidance.”

The concerned councillors, including MCC’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Richard John, also state their concerns over warnings issued by deputy school headmaster Andy Williams that children not wearing the correct uniform will be sent home. They write: “We also consider the threat to send students home if they attend school in the wrong uniform heavy- handed from a school which has always had a proud and strong relationship with parents and the local community.

“In light of the significant amount of angst this issue is causing local families, we urge the governing body to urgently reconsider the decision specifically on the right of parents to purchase trousers and skirts from other suppliers, including high street retailers and supermarkets.”

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