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Furious parents blast Priestlands School in Lymington for introducing tartan skirt costing up to £45

Furious parents have lashed out at a secondary school over “tone deaf” plans for a new skirt costing up to £45.

Priestlands School in Lymington is introducing its new ‘Priestlands Tartan’ skirt from September, which is available from only one store and must be “fitted in person to ensure it is knee length”.

Parents have slammed the decision, calling it “outrageous” and “tone deaf”, with one mum branding it “disgusting when families are struggling to put food on the table”.

The new 'Priestlands tartan' skirt
The new 'Priestlands tartan' skirt

The decision has even angered town mayor Jack Davies who branded the decision a “disgrace”.

Some are now calling for a protest against the new skirt, while others say they will continue to send in their child wearing a plain one.

The skirt is available only from school uniform store PGM, which goes against government guidelines that state “single supplier contracts should be avoided”.

Priestlands School is introducing its new skirt from September
Priestlands School is introducing its new skirt from September

Some parents have said it is aimed at stopping girls shortening their skirts, with one adding: “The school should be concentrating on their education, not how much leg they show.”

Priestlands announced in a newsletter that from September it would be introducing the skirt, which costs between £36.99 and £44.99. It acknowledged there was a “cost implication for parents”, adding that for Year 11 students there would be a 50% discount on the first purchase of a skirt, and a 20% one for other years.

But many families pointed out that as “youngsters grow so fast” it would still end up costing them a fortune. Others said they would no longer be able to use hand-me-downs from older children to younger ones.

One mum said: “I’m actually shocked. I thought they would be getting rid of the logo to allow us to buy a navy skirt from anywhere.”

Another said: “Parents need to purchase maybe two or three of these. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

Others called for a boycott, with one saying: “If we send our girls in with plain skirts from Tesco, or Asda, is the school going to send them all home?”

Dad Ed Jones told the A&T: “Parents rejoiced last year when school logos were removed allowing parents to purchase generic skirts from a variety of online, national and local retailers at reduced costs, while still adhering to the high school standards.

“The recent change in uniform policy moving to a tartan skirt which ‘must’ only be purchased from one local retailer at around double the cost of previous generic skirts is a blow to cash-strapped parents, hard-working families who are still struggling with an ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

“Parents call on the board of governors and senior management team to reconsider this new policy to find a better solution, perhaps first consulting and working with parents rather than sending out diktats and causing upset.”

Mayor Cllr Jack Davies has emailed Priestland’s head teacher Peter Main to protest, saying: “It is a disgrace that Priestlands want to force parents with daughters to buy a specific tartan skirt when so many local families are struggling with ever-increasing bills.

“Schools should not be making uniforms more expensive for parents during a cost-of-living crisis. I have urged the school to reverse this decision.”

In his email Cllr Davies wrote: “I imagine you are getting a lot of emails on the subject of the decision to introduce a new tartan skirt. I won’t be alone in being shocked by the cost of this new skirt. Even with the discount, that price is simply too much for many local families to bear.

“What is even worse, by my reckoning, is that parents don’t have a choice. If a child wants to wear a skirt, and they will, then they have to fork out for this particular skirt.

“Two hundred children at Priestlands are eligible for free school meals. I worry about how this decision will impact upon some of the most vulnerable children and their families in our area.

“During a cost-of-living crisis, I would expect any school to make uniform as cheap and accessible as possible. I urge you to reverse your decision.”

Tom Wardle, a community campaigner who works for foodbank charity Trussell Trust, called the decision “misguided”, adding: “The changes seem quite objectional at a time when living costs are rising so much already. The best thing the school could do is introduce a generic skirt instead of a bespoke tartan one.”

The school has said that girls can wear plain trousers in place of the skirt, but one mum said: “My daughter hates wearing trousers, but she will hate wearing that tartan skirt as well.”

The school said in its newsletter: “We have carefully considered government guidance in relation to uniform to ensure we are satisfying all criteria.”

It said it had also “benchmarked our uniform against other local schools and national averages and we are pleased our cost is lower”.

The A&T has approached Priestlands for a comment.

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