Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte says a firm directive from the Government to school boards of management is needed to change archaic school uniform practices.

Deputy Rabbitte was responding to the publication of Barnardos Children’s Charity annual ‘School Costs Survey’, which points out that current uniform policy are heaping unnecessary costs on struggling parents.

“Every September we have the same absurd situation where families have to go into debt to pay for school uniforms. While the Back to School Allowance is a help to many, this provides little comfort to the families whose income falls just above the income threshold to receive the grant,” said Deputy Rabbitte.

“Fianna Fáil has argued that the Back to School Allowance needs to be widened to include more low income families. In the meantime simple measures can be taken by schools to reduce the cost of uniforms, such as allowing parents to buy low cost generic uniforms and iron on crests.

“It truly is remarkable that more schools have not taken on board calls to make school uniforms more cost effective. While the Department of Education has given advice to schools to standardise the selection of uniforms, many have not taken on board this guidance. The schools that have done so should be commended.

“I believe now is the time for the department to issue a directive to schools to adopt generic uniforms. While I recognise uniform selection is a prerogative of boards of management, making school uniforms more cost effective would significantly lessen costs for families. It would reduce the increase in household debts associated with school costs each September.”