The vast majority of secondary school age children will not have been into school for more than five months when the Autumn term starts in September.
Back on 20 March, major changes saw schools close at the end of the school day to all pupils except the children of critical key workers and also vulnerable children (such as those with a social worker and children with Education Health and Care Plans). This was a small percentage, between one and three per cent of the total number of pupils in our city.
The focus was on looking after the children that needed to be in school and setting up learning that could be carried out by pupils at home.
As a result, schools eased uniform rules during the pandemic for pupils going into the classroom during lockdown. Now the government guidance for September encourages schools to return to usual uniform policies.
Concerns have been raised about how the cost of new school uniform could add to financial hardship many families have experienced due to Covid-19.
Pledge of support
Last week, Cllr John Allcock and Cllr Kate Knight met with the city’s secondary school headteachers to discuss the financial pressures of buying school uniform. The councillors heard how all secondary school headteachers are committed to supporting families who are struggling to buy uniform and have systems in place to help.
The ten headteachers have also signed a collective Pledge on the issues that states “Each of us leads a different school serving a different local community. So, we do things differently. Supporting struggling families with the cost of school uniform is one such thing. However, this does not prevent us from offering the following collective pledge. If you are struggling with the cost of school uniform we will help.”
Keen to help
Cllr Knight said “At that meeting, it was obvious how keen schools are to help children, particularly those who are disadvantaged, and there was a great deal that we all agreed upon – in particular the role of uniform as a source of pride and identity, as well as an important way of social levelling.
“John and I very much welcome our schools’ pledge, which recognises the exceptional circumstances families face.”
Cllr Allcock said, “The pledge sends out a clear message that no one should feel uncomfortable in any way, about asking for the help that the schools are clearly so willing to offer.
“So we would strongly urge any and every parent who is at all worried, or stressed, or likely to go into debt in order to provide a school uniform, to contact their school as a matter of urgency.”
Do not worry
Cllr Knight added, “Please don’t sit and worry over the summer, you are not alone. Many, many families across the City are finding themselves in circumstances very different to those that they had imagined and no one should feel awkward in any way about asking for help.”
Families in need of support with buying school uniform are advised to contact their secondary school for more information.