I like the idea of school uniforms. In an ideal world there would be no competition about what shoes or designer labels to wear. However for many parents including myself this is a stressful time. There are two local school wear shops in the town I live in. At this time of year there are stressed staff and parents looking for the particular pieces of uniform they ordered months ago. For many of us we have to do this so we can save up for the cost. In previous years I have always sent my son to school in the polo shirts and sweatshirts they prefer. Look at school websites and the children are always dressed in clothing with the school badge. My two sons have issues wearing shirts and ties, they find them too enclosing. For children on the autistic spectrum clothing can cause a range of sensory issues as I know many friends will attest too.
This year though I have had no choice but to go for polos and clothes in the appropriate school colours but without the badges as I can’t afford them. My sons’ schools have many families in the same situation as me so I know I am not alone. There is still that feeling of shame though when you can’t provide what are deemed as uniforms. There is a shame and humiliation there which only a parent can understand.
Local areas have started school clothing banks, these are not new though. When I was a child in Dundee there was the school exchange where we shopped for our back to school grants. I remember being five and “losing” my coat in the cloakroom. My mother and teacher helped me look we found a similar duffle coat but it had a boy’s name on it. “David”. My mum said it wasn’t mine. When we got home though my mum told me it was my coat. It took me a few years to realise that she was ashamed to admit she couldn’t buy me a new coat. I am one of five children and grew up in poverty and I understand now.
It is a shame on our society that now school clothing banks still exist though for many they are an essential. Shame on a government that allows this poverty to exist and has enforced the “big society” to be a necessity whether we like it or not. All our bairns will go out to school presented as well as we can despite the impact of poverty and I just want to say I hope we see and end to their existence soon. I hope tomorrow will be a better world in many ways but this starts with the basics of being able to feed, clothe and heat all our bairns.