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Tenterden parents hit out at Homewood School's uniform changes

Kent's largest school has said it "can't please everyone" after frustrated parents hit out at its new uniform changes.

Mums say the changes brought in for next year at Homewood school in Tenterden are unnecessary and poorly-timed, but the school has responded by saying it is so big that some parents are bound to be unhappy with the changes.

Homewood school parents have hit out at the new uniform for next year
Homewood school parents have hit out at the new uniform for next year

The move will see new uniforms drafted in for the school's 2,000-strong student base starting this September, with a new PE kit to be phased in in the future.

However, many parents feel that the new set up, which includes trousers and skirts with the school logo on, will lead to needless expense at a time where the cost of living is already biting.

Some say that the branding on the legwear falls foul of upcoming government guidance, which calls for schools to limit 'unnecessary branding' on uniforms – although the school denies this.

The Education (Guidance About Costs of School Uniform) Bill was passed in April, and schools are expected to take steps to fall in line with the guidance before parents buy uniforms for the next academic year.

One mum said that the branding was "completely unnecessary, and a change for change's sake".

The design for the new boy's uniform
The design for the new boy's uniform

"It means that from next year parents will only be able to buy skirts or trousers with the logo on it, which will be far more expensive than being able to shop around for suitable plain versions," she explained.

To mitigate the impact on parents, head teacher Jeremy Single announced that all children in year seven to nine will receive a free blazer, tie and either a pair of trousers or a skirt, with a value around £57.40.

In a letter to parents, Mr Single said: "We hope that this will go some way to addressing parental financial concerns. Items will be available to be ordered online soon and, over time, second-hand uniform will be available to purchase."

However, many feel that the move is not enough, with several parents pointing out that the average student will need several trousers and skirts a week.

"What happens when a child falls over and gets a hole in their trousers?" One asked.

The design for the new girl's uniform
The design for the new girl's uniform

"Under this year's uniform we'll be able to replace it cheaply but next year we will have to get it from Simmonds at a much higher cost."

"To get one is great, but that won't last a pre-teen for the whole week," added another.

"There is a cost to it that I wasn't expecting at this time. It's not a good time to do this, it feels tone deaf to what's going on in the world.

"I know a lot of other parents are relying on uniforms to pass down and while that can still be the case for some of them, for many that won't happen now."

A spokesman for Homewood School said: “The school consulted widely on its plans to update its uniform, including a request for comments which was sent to the parents of every child in the school. A total of more than 350 responses were received, but we note that some of those who have since complained about the proposed changes are among those who did not take the opportunity to respond at the time.

Homewood School principal, Jeremy Single
Homewood School principal, Jeremy Single

“The new uniform, which includes the PE kit, is in line with the latest Department for Education guidance.

“Our letter to parents explains the school’s reasons for the changes and makes it very clear that there are no additional branded items but the same number as in the current uniform: the branded polo shirt being replaced by the branded trouser/skirt.

“In addition, every student in current Years seven to nine will receive a free blazer, tie and either a pair of trousers or a skirt, valuing on average £57.40. Parents will therefore need to spend on average £25.95 if they choose to purchase a second pair of trousers/skirt from the school shop and a pack of two shirts from an alternative retail outlet.

“As is the case currently, if any parent is having difficulty paying for the uniform, then they have been advised to contact their College Office.

“We respect everyone’s views within our school community but, and as a very large school, we do not expect to be able to please everyone with every decision made.”

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