Back to school… Parents are kitting children out for new uniforms

As a mother to five children who are in four different schools Zoe Tunney knows all too well, the cost of kitting kids out for school. This week she gives a first hand account of what it is like to get a family of school age children kitted out to return to the classroom.

IN the South, low-income families receive an annual contribution towards the cost of school uniforms. I don’t think that is the case in the North but, I’m not sure. (It was in the region of €200 per family Pettigo people told me up to four years ago).
As a rule, I hate waste of any kind, so where possible my kids will wear hand-me-down uniforms from older siblings. I take special care to make sure clothes are looked after with this always at the back of my mind.
It is my personal choice to shop local and to spend in our local independent shops for everything, not just school uniforms, wherever I can.
One of the bargain stores are doing school uniforms for a fiver, all the supermarkets offer cheap alternatives but, do they wear and wash as well? The short answer is: some do and some don’t. However, I do know that for hand-me-down purposes the cheaper alternatives were never made to do more than one child more than one school year.
To my mind, some of the costs are unavoidable, like school shoes, for example.
My mother-in-law would’ve always warned about buying quality shoes for children’s growing and developing feet and that has always stayed with me.
I spoke to the owner of an Enniskillen shoe shop a few years back who said customers came to him to have their children’s feet measured professionally but then went to one of the large UK chains like Next or Asda to buy their shoes. That information has stuck with me ever since, too.
Does O’Neill’s need the contract for the PE kits of all the local Catholic secondary schools? I doubt it but, their gear lasts forever and it does keep everyone uniform.
I used to give all my children’s regular clothes to charities and clothes banks but, then I saw the clothes mountains – and they really are mountains – in African countries and I was horrified.
If we don’t expect our children to wear second-hand then why do we expect the children in Africa to wear ERGS rugby half-zips and Holy Trinity t-shirts?
For the past several years I have given my good second-hand uniforms to St Vincent de Paul in the hope that parents of children who attend the same school as mine will pick them up in the Saint Vincent’s shop or the volunteers will reach the people who are most in need.
I would like to see uniform-swapping become the norm. It fills me with regret when it comes time to dump or donate school uniforms. Perfectly good winter coats, blazers, ties and scarfs, jumpers, skirts and PE kits could easily be cleaned, labelled by age and dropped into schools on the last week of term for parents to simply pick up for the following school term. PTAs could organise this so that it doesn’t become another task teachers have to do to tackle a national problem.
Parents could help by giving the right messaging at home. Remind children it is their ‘boring school uniform’ and that no-one cares from the second day into term onwards where it came from or how many previous owners wore it.
Show the pictures of clothes mountains for they are the reality of clothes waste in society today.





To read more.. Subscribe to current edition

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA