CPC: Parents Lack Funds To Buy New Uniforms

November 17, 2015

“It was disturbing to see so many children kept home from school because their parents lack the funds to buy the new uniforms,” said Sheelagh Cooper of the Coalition for the Protection of Children, adding that one day last week they had three mothers actually bring their out of school sons with them hoping to get help purchasing uniforms.

Ms Cooper said, “Last week was a tough one for parents of school aged children as the uniforms changed from summer to winter and the costs of sweaters, blazers and winter pants places an additional burden on already struggling parents.

“We have been receiving increasing numbers of calls for help, but last week it was disturbing to see so many children kept home from school because their parent[s] lack the funds to buy the new uniforms. One day last week we had three mothers actually bring their out of school sons with them hoping to get help purchasing uniforms.

“While some of the second hand stores do stock various parts of the school uniforms, one of the major stumbling blocks is the fact that schools vary considerably in the nature of the uniforms. Many have uniforms that are specific to the individual school. This can include school specific track suits and gym clothes as well.

“The effect of these school-specific uniforms is to both reduce the likelihood of re-using items, but further to increase the cost as bulk ordering is reduced.

“In years past, plain white shirts were the norm and crossed all school lines, and because of the bulk buying were considerably less expensive. Schools were differentiated mainly by school ties.

“The net effect of these expenses is to marginalize children who continue to be sent home from school at each change of uniform because parents are unable to keep up to the increased cost.

“One of the primary advantages of the school uniform policy is that it is intended to create a level playing field so that children whose parents can afford expensive clothes remain on par with those who are less advantaged.

“Unfortunately as our economic situation continues to be a source of stress for many people, this policy becomes a detriment rather than an advantage when children are sent home.

“I am sure that if PTA’s, principals and the Department of Education put their heads together they could find some creative ways to eliminate this problem.

“As a beginning point perhaps they could consider going back to a plain white shirt, making the school tie the distinguishing feature.

“Perhaps also consider opening up the option of wearing either khaki or grey, long or short pants acceptable. Both of these would cut costs while increasing the transferability from school to school in the second hand market.

“Every September and November the Coalition gathers uniforms for struggling families or provides funds for their purchase. While this service used to be a small part of our budget it continues to grow and at the current rate it cannot continue to be sustained.

“We are hopeful that there will emerge some creative solution to this problem for the sake of the children who suffer the shame of being sent home without the proper uniform.

“We would welcome any creative suggestions at cpc@ibl.bm,” added Ms Cooper.

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  1. BorB says:

    Times are hard and there should be leniency within the schools regarding uniforms. For the most part the schools/principals/teachers know which children come from financially stricken homes and should allow the children to go to school in the uniform they currently use for a period of time until such time where they can get the correct season of uniform. To send kids home over a uniform is senseless… what about their education???? You’re really going to tell me that a uniform is more IMPORTANT than EDUCATION????!!!! This is what it’s come to? I understand rules are rules and uniform is uniform but we have to be more caring towards our children before resentment kicks in. It’s embarrassing enough for the ones (children) who are not able to do or have as the rest of their peers have… Come on now !!! sheesh

    • hmmm says:

      The idea is to have no differentiation, for obvious reasons.

    • The times we live in says:

      School uniforms for children vs latest iPhone and nails for mom. Priorities.

      • Time Shall Tell says:

        @The times we live in, you’re painting a picture with too broad of a brush there mate. Not all families struggling are a product of bad life choices, some actually just hit hard times. Tomorrow’s story has never been told so you don’t know what it has in store for you.

        I know of a family that was doing very well for themselves but the husband got sick & the wife soon after was laid off. While they’re both back working at new jobs they unfortunately racked up a small debt due to both of their insurance policies expiring over the year they both were out of work. Neither is making the income they once were & so both presently count every penny but at times they still do fall short. While they mainly go without they still try to make sure their kids are taken care of. Bills are still due, mortgage/rent still has to be paid, children have financial needs, it all adds up so I can see where someone can find themselves in a bad financial situation pretty quick.

        Obviously you’re still blessed to the point as not to have these worries but you shouldn’t be so cold or quick to pass judgement on others you know nothing about.

        • Nanny Pat says:

          May God bless this ONE particular family you are referring to – do they have the latest IPhone 6+? I highly doubt it. These are not the people I refer to AND YOU KNOW IT!

          • Nanny Pat says:

            *referred to

          • DeeDee says:

            So who exactly are you referring to? Making statements one would have to know the details of all families mentioned in this article. Not everyone has their priorities backward as you mention so please stop! And surely that ONE family that “Time…” is speaking of can’t be the ONLY family that doesn’t have the latest iPhone 6+. So again please stop! There are different circumstances for different people. So before you start judging first think about the possibility that maybe…just maybe some families are having a harder time making ends meet than you may be. That doesn’t mean their children should be denied an education because they can’t afford a tie, blazer, etc. After all…shouldn’t the main focus be education?

  2. bluebird says:

    Now do you see on display the attitude of some of the teachers in the schools.And they can take there holidays when they want to especially when school is in besides all the other school holidays.
    No compassion as long as they are getting theirs and don’t want to be bother with those pesky little things.

  3. Legalgal says:

    No child should be without a uniform nor should they be considered charity cases if they have second hand uniforms. Even schools like BHS encourage free uniform swops. All my daughters dresses are “recycled”. Where they are in good nick we should encourage this “swop”. Surely the schools can organise this. It also saves the children whose parents may not be able to afford new uniforms the social stigma of having to ask.

    And good idea to standardize uniforms. You can always add a badge or tie.

  4. enough says:

    Use the same uniform all year. Winter – Khaki or Grey pants whichever the school decides on, white shirt, tie, sweater and blazer or wind breaker. Summer – Khaki or grey pants, white shirt, tie , subsitute skirts for the girls. this way the only additional items will be a sweater and jacket, both of which should be able to last two if not three school years.

    CHeck out Bermuda Institute from middle school upwards this is what they do and it works well.

    • Walk in their shoes says:

      Nailed it. One uniform throughout the year – add your sweater or jacket or blazer as needed. Shorts in warmer months.

  5. Bermy Realist says:

    Ok enough of the complaining but if one can help then help and call Ms. Cooper and donate to help the children get blazers because the children should not suffer for this. Lets put our money where our mouth is and help the community and these children get back to school and give Ms. Cooper a call. Remember it takes a village.

  6. hmmm says:

    Perhaps the schools can have an end of year depositary, where they collect the used uniforms that are not going to be reused by siblings.

    Somewhat like a going up ceremony on a grub day, when the kids (with parents permission) get to hand their uniforms in.

    The school CPC can then collect them. Parents of children needing school uniforms can then apply to the CPC.

    My kids both had used uniforms at least once in their school life.

    • Shell says:

      I agree. West Pembroke Primary PTA did this. They collected uniforms and washed them. I also remember having a crest to sew on to my blazer. If all the Blazers were alike they could be used for any school by just switching the crest.

    • Kathy says:

      I agree. There is no reason these parents should be forced to buy “new” uniforms. There are so many children in each class…surely we can recycle the old uniforms…this is where we need to concentrate our efforts. Reuse!

  7. Faulk says:

    I think the same issue Ms. Cooper identifies also applies to many (especially Asian and Dominican) expats brought here for domestic household employment. I know of several who are not only barely clothed but also seem underfed. It would be helpful if Ms. Cooper could use her rainbow resource of activists to address this – I gather she has much experience to share. Indeed, I remember the late Julian Hall speaking of her remarkable journey in this regard.

  8. Bermy Realist says:

    @Faulk maybe its time to name and shame some of these employers that bring this domestic help here and these people are barely clothed and underfed. This is just terrible.

    • Faulk says:

      Julian defended just such a case back in the day and won, despite an employee of his client going to jail over the matter. The client is now a noted philanthropist and activist, so well done to Julian for getting a innocent person off, as he did so often.

  9. I have a child in Cedarbridge and I am appreciative of the fact that they have the same uniform all year round, but I also have a child at the Berkeley and they change into winter in just over a week from now, I do not think we should have parents in this present economic climate having to pay out for more uniforms, when we just paid out funds in September, and frankly if I don’t have it to get my child will go to school in the uniform that they have.

    We have to review the present policy, going from shorts in the warmer months to long pants in the colder months makes sense, but that is not the issue here. we are literally talking about a child going from beige long pants to blue long pants. the sweaters are bout in September to go all year through, even the warmer months because the A.C is on full blast, so let’s get real and meet the needs of having the same uniform all the year through

  10. Everett gibson says:

    I don’t care what the reason is for children not having school uniforms they should not be stigmatized by being sent home from school.children can be very cruel and I am sure that fellow students will tease and embarrass them.they should not have been sent home from school .it is not their fault that they do not have uniforms and the reason they are there is to learn no matter what they are wearing.it is hard enough to get children interested in learning without sending them home just because they do not have a uniform.