Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Pain of Uniformity ..

Today I have like all good mothers *cough* been uniform shopping for the new school year which although it starts on Monday (for The Boy a least) is not cutting it fine at all. At. All..... Right?

The TeenTwins, starting Year 13 on Tuesday, don't need a uniform as such because they're allowed to wear "appropriate business wear." Appropriate to what business is not specified but I suspect when the TeenTwins appear for their first day there might be some quick adjustments to the meanings of "appropriate," "business" and, indeed, "wear" in the Academy rules.*Rolls eyes*

But for The Tween, starting Year 8 on Wednesday, and The Boy who's starting Junior school, new uniform is required for the new school year. And while Other Mothers can charge down to the nearest supermarket, purchase an entire uniform for £3.50 and still have money left over for the traditional back to school bottle of champagne and a string of bunting, The Boy attends a school where the uniform is not black, grey or even blue, but brown.


Do you know how many popular supermarkets supply brown uniform trousers? Do you? DO YOU? Answer: None.
Or at least not round here they don't. The Boy's school, it appears, being the ONLY school in the whole district that when confronted with a choice of uniform colours thought: "Mmm, shitty brown. That'll be nice"

Luckily *sarcastic face* there are a couple of specialised uniform shops in the city centre who do stock the school's brown uniform. Though they stock it at three to four times the price of what the supermarkets charge. Obviously.

Last year The Boy managed to tear, rip or hole the right knee of each of the EIGHT pairs of brown trousers I had purchased over that year at the specialised uniform shop's inflated prices. Not the left knees though. Only the right. Which was odd.

But at least the yellow polo shirts to go with the uniform's brown trousers, coincidentally making the playground look like a gathering of angry wasps, can be purchased at a reasonable price in the supermarkets. I am also grateful that having already seen three girls go through the same school, I have an abundance of the brown school sweatshirts (thankfully unisex) required. The Boy hasn't complained at being called by any of his sisters' names once either. Well, not yet.

Note to self: get new labels 

And it's a good job I can make a saving somewhere as not any element of The Tween's uniform comes cheap because The Academy, apparently in some Faustian pact with a uniform manufacturer, insists the uniform, all of the uniform, must contain The Academy logo.

This purple swirl logo, as well as being emblazoned on the blazer pocket, is also sewn into the sleeves of the blouses and shirts, the chests of jumpers, the hems of skirts and trouser waistbands. Even, God help us all, the sports socks required for PE are specified socks and none other that those socks will do.

And such attention to detail does not come cheap though to be fair when the school first changed to an Academy, each pupil (including the TeenTwins) was presented with a full complement of the new uniform for free. Which was nice. Nicer still that last year they continued the tradition (through European funding) and issued one set of uniform to all the new intake of year sevens, one of whom was The Tween, again for free.

Year Sevens do grow at an alarming rate though, or at least mine has, and so approaching Year Eight that uniform is already a fond and distant memory. Apart *cough* from the blazer which was slightly bigger than necessarily required when it was ordered, The Tween will outgrow it eventually of course. When she's about 45 I'm guessing. Well, have you SEEN the price of blazers?

Unfortunately The Tween drew the line at spending her first year at secondary school swamped in a whole uniform three sizes too big, even if it was free. And so I have spent good money on more of the Academy's speculatively-priced uniform which is of no better quality than the ones knocked out in the supermarkets but does have that all important bit of embroidered logo on it.

So my purse is apparently gleefully and purposefully fleeced every time my child grows an extra inch or loses a sports sock. (And she loses a lot of sports socks, at least a football team's worth). I feel, whether I should or not, like a victim of organised extortion.

I don't see the point of it either. The only thing such stringency of uniform regulations has achieved in all my three girls is a fear of not having the right logo (not something I want to actively encourage, thank you very much) and then, when those stringent rules relax, they don't take an inch, they take a mile. And mostly off their skirt. (I refer you back to paragraph 2).

So it IS probably a good job I wait until the very last dying days of the school's summer holiday to restock on uniform because, at this stage, there is NO price I will not pay to get them out of the house back to school. Even if it means I have to sell a limb.

But, you know, still: Damn.

*Sells a limb*


  1. Just catching up on a bit of blog reading after a summer of madness with 3 kids and numerous builders at home. This made me laugh and laugh. Shitty brown - oh my - with yellow polo shirts - oh my, oh my !! I'm a supermarket in the sale, uniform buyer me ! Definitley no brown and yellow there! Great post! X

  2. Eight pairs of trousers in one year! I'd go mental, no wonder you have to sell a limb. Hope you've not had to buy any more since they've started back x


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