In light of recent revelations that many department stores now carry generic school uniforms for a fraction of the price of official school uniforms, Sinead Moore investigates how relaxed schools in Cork are with regard to students wearing cheaper alternatives
Following a report last week by children's charity Barnardos that parents are increasingly cutting back on food bills in order to pay other expenses, such as school expenses, the charity has confirmed that more and more families have begun coming in to avail of the services on offer.
The Barnardos survey found that on average parents are paying €355 for a child in senior infants, €390 for children in fourth class in primary school and €770 for children going into first year in secondary school. According to Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay, "many parents are being forced to make very difficult choices and many are getting into debt to pay for uniforms, books and other education expenses".
The Cork Independent contacted a random selection of both primary and secondary schools around Cork city and county to investigate whether or not schools have a crest on their uniform and whether or not this crest is compulsory. Results were varied.
St Vincent's Convent National School on St Mary's Road, in Shandon in Cork city has a school uniform with the official school crest on a navy jumper. However, it is not compulsory for students to wear the official uniform with the crest. Students have the option of wearing a plain navy jumper if they wish - good news for parents on a strict budget.
Students at Scoil Éanna in Montenotte are required to wear a plain navy jumper which can be bought in most department stores in Cork. The school crest is on the school P.E. tracksuit but it is not compulsory.
St John The Apostle Boys National School in Mayfield has the school crest on a grey jumper. It is essential that students wear the official school jumper which can be purchased in Buckley's on Shandon Street. Students are not permitted to wear cheaper, plain grey jumpers.
Ballindangan Mixed National School in Mitchelstown does not have a crest on their school uniform. Students must wear a wine jumper which is available in most department stores. The school does, however, have a crest on their school tracksuit. Students are encouraged to pass down their tracksuits to younger siblings once they finish school. The school also holds a uniform and book sale at the end of every year to give parents the opportunity to buy second hand uniforms for a reduced rate.
Druimne National School in Rathluirc, Co. Cork did not always have a crest on their school jumper. However, parents requested that a crest be implemented. The official school jumper is available in Moran's in Mitchelstown. The uniform as a whole, is still very affordable. Students may purchase their plain navy tracksuit pants and a plain white polo shirt wherever they wish.
St Patrick's College on Gardiner's Hill, near St Lukes requires students to wear the official school jumper, complete with school crest. The school crest is also on the P.E. tracksuit pants and this is also compulsory.
Douglas Community School on Clermont Avenue in Douglas does not have a school crest on their uniform. However, students are not permitted to wear a plain jumper as the school colours are on the neckline of the school jumper and it is essential that students wear the official school uniform.
Students attending Midleton College in Midleton, Co Cork are required to wear a grey jumper, complete with school crest, which can be purchased in The Arcade in Midleton. It is compulsory that students wear this jumper and not a plain grey jumper.
Rossa College in Skibbereen, Co Cork also has the official school crest on their green school jumper. This jumper can be purchased locally and it is compulsory that students wear this jumper.
With parents struggling to make ends meet it is difficult to justify forking out for these crested school jumpers when there are far cheaper alternatives. One supermarket sparked a price war last week by launching a back to school range starting at as little as €5.
Other supermarkets also carry generic school jumpers for less than €15. In this current economic climate parents are doing everything they can to save money.
Buckley's drapery store on Shandon Street, Cork city cater for a lot of schools in Cork city and stock a range of both crested and plain school jumpers. These jumpers range in price depending on the quality of the material. Buckley's also stock all of the school crests and these are available to buy for only €3. This gives parents the option of buying a plain, more affordable school jumper and then sewing on the crest themselves. This is a very cost-effective option. Reassuringly, there are budget friendly options available to parents who are struggling to get by.