Thursday, August 23, 2012

The cost of unnecessary jackets

For the ten years my kids have attended school, I have annually bought them three jackets each: a warm winter jacket they could use in the ice and snow, a light rain jacket they could use on normal showery Scottish days and a fleece for dry days that weren't cold enough for the winter one. On average I have paid about £15 for the winter one, £5 for the rain one and £8 for the fleece. They wear them to school and they wear them on weekends. I therefore pay £28 a year for each of my kids' jackets, so was budgeting about £140 a year.

Then the new school jacket policy came in last week. Of course I still have to buy the £28 of jackets I always did, because no one turns off the weather on weekends, and no child would be seen dead in his or her blazer on weekends, but I now need the three same weights of jackets for school, also per child. I can't leave out the rain jacket - you need it too often - they've already had to wear it three times and they are only back a week. I can't leave out the blazer because the school has seen fit to discontinue school fleeces so there is no lightweight alternative for dry Scottish autumn or spring days. I obviously can't leave out the winter jacket because neither the blazer, nor the rain jacket would suffice on a frosty day. So let's add it up. Blazer £26, rain jacket £11 and winter jacket (if my memory is correct, I have not bought it yet) £19. I have therefore to add an extra £56 onto my current outlay of £28 per child, in jackets alone. As I mentioned in my earlier rant about blue jumpers - that means £33 600 across the school's parent body, again five years into a recession. As for the high school, as they too have made blazers compulsory I was offered two woollen blazers by Man's World at no less than £150! I declined and opted for polyester at just (!?) £26 for my daughter's (1st year) size and £38 for my son's (4th year) size.

Interestingly, given the number of white collar redundancies this recession has brought, I checked the council's clothing grant. Families on incomes of up to approximately £16K qualify. I imagine in households where the main breadwinner has lost their job temporarily, people will fall into this category. Families are given £50 per child for their annual uniform outlay. It seems that by bringing in a full new uniform and compulsory jackets at the same time, people on clothing grants will not even be able to afford the prescribed jackets, let alone the new grey jumpers, white shirts, ties and expensive tracksuits required. I think someone needs to tell the council to triple this year's clothing grant allowance!

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