Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland parent faced with £600 school uniform bill

Case Study - 'I think that schools should put a cap on how much parents pay'

Hannah, Quinn and Harvey Kealey get equipped for a new school year
Hannah, Quinn and Harvey Kealey get equipped for a new school year

By Chelsie Kealey

A Limavady mum will be paying out more than £600 for school uniforms alone this September.

Alana Kealey (31), who is a catering assistant and cleaner from Limavady, has three children, Harvey (13), Hannah (11) and Quinn (7).

Come September, Hannah and Harvey will both attend Limavady High School.

Quinn will be going back to Drumachose Primary School.

Alana, who is a single mum, will pay over £600 to buy all her children's school uniforms.

This does not including their school bags, books, pencil cases and stationery.

A school uniform and PE kit for Harvey, who will be starting his third year of secondary school, will set Alana back over £240.

The set for Hannah - who will be starting first year - will cost £244 and Quinn's P3 uniform works out at over £80.

Each year before her children finish their summer holidays, the school issues a list of uniform requirements.

It includes a rugby top for the boys, mandatory football boots and shin guards.

The girls must have a skirt, swimming suit and shin guards.

One of the issues that Alana faces is her children's desire for named brands.

Alana said that the school has tried to combat this by saying that they cannot wear Vans or Converse shoes.

The children are also not allowed to wear branded coats, only coats that the school permits.

This year, Alana will be purchasing her children's uniforms from the School Uniform company in Londonderry.

It is providing a deal for parents whereby they can buy their children's uniforms as a set.

If Alana was to buy her children's uniforms from an independent store, it would cost substantially more.

Alana said: "It's definitely a burden on the household, especially when they are at the age where they want branded school shoes, branded trainers - and nothing from the supermarket will do the two older ones.

"It's getting more expensive every year."

Alana thinks that another reason for the rise in cost is the introduction of the new sponsored half-zip hoodie.

"Harvey's Kukri half-zip hoodie now costs £62, whereas before when it wasn't sponsored it was only around £40.

"They didn't explain why they brought in the Kukri sponsorship, they just said it was compulsory and they had to wear it.

"I think schools should put a cap on how much parents pay.

"The school should only accept one type of shoe and everybody has to wear them.

"There are parents out there who can pay £50-£60 for school shoes alone, whereas I can't do that."

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