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Three quarters of parents forced to buy uniforms from supplier dictated by school

Almost three quarters of parents across Northern Ireland are being forced to buy uniforms from a supplier dictated by the school.

The NI Children’s Commissioner (NICC) found that 73 per cent of parents surveyed are left with no choice but to buy from a specific supplier chosen by the school or from the school itself.

The debate raged on the BBC Nolan show this morning with one parent infuriated that his children are being told to turn up wearing uniform from the designated supplier or face being sent home.

The NICC also found that, on average, one child’s school uniform costs £106 or £170 per household.

The debate touched on the price gap between leading supermarket chains and these smaller independent suppliers chosen by the school.

Broadcaster Stephen Nolan blasted the results and said it points out “a blatant class issue in Northern Ireland”.

He said: “Children are having policies enforced on them by schools across Northern Ireland, which will hinder their children getting an education at a certain school.

“The school creates a monopoly which forces the parents, who want their child to be educated at that particular school, to pay the price one shop has decided.”

The NICC survey found that five per cent of parents don’t have any choice, they must go directly to school; 51 per cent have their supplier dictated by schools and 22 per cent have a choice of either supplier or school.

The Human Rights commissioner says it may be a breach of a child’s human rights if they are suspended from school because they have not met a uniform policy because of their income.

Former Education Minister John O’Dowd, speaking on the show, said: “We had guidance in place but this is not binding.

“It is quite clear that parents should be consulted on uniform policy, it should take into consideration costs and the ability of parents to pay for uniforms.

“The figures are quite alarming from the Children’s Commissioner and that advances the argument that legislation is required.”

Is there a monopoly for your child’s uniform? Do you feel you are paying more than you should have to? Get in touch via email or directly on Facebook.

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