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Priestlands School head teacher Peter Main defends new tartan uniform skirt which costs up to £45

THE head teacher of a secondary school at the centre of a row over a new skirt has said the decision was down to feedback over the current uniform.

As reported by the A&T, Priestlands School in Lymington is introducing its new ‘Priestlands Tartan’ skirt from September, which costs up to £45.

The previous plain, pleated skirt cost between £21.99 and £26.99.

This enraged many parents who slammed the decision as “outrageous” and “tone deaf”, with one adding it was “disgusting when families are struggling to put food on the table”.

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

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

It costs between between £36.99 and £44.99, depending on the size, with the school offering a 50% discount for Year 11s on the first purchase, and 20% for other years.

In a survey of 467 parents and 426 students last autumn, the majority said they wanted the number of branded items to be reduced. Following the survey, the school said it was going to change the skirt to "address quality, logo removal and length it is worn".

In a comment to the A&T, head teacher Peter Main said: “In the autumn term Priestlands consulted parents, students and staff on the uniform provision, and in the feedback there were a significant number of comments about the need for a change to the school skirt and how it is worn by students.

Priestlands headteacher Peter Main
Priestlands headteacher Peter Main

“We have duly responded to this with a solution that addresses this feedback.

“As with any change it is hard to please everyone but there have been many positive comments as well as some who are disappointed with the change.”

Mr Main added: “Priestlands always offers support for families struggling financially.”

The decision also sparked a letter to the school from town mayor Cllr Jack Davies, who said: “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.”

Priestlands School
Priestlands School

Many parents have asked for the removal of uniform logos so they could be used as hand-me-downs. Some are calling for a protest against the new skirt, while others say they will continue to send in their child wearing a plain one.

And Tom Wardle, a community campaigner who works for foodbank charity Trussell Trust, called the decision “misguided”, adding: “The changes seem quite objectionable 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.”

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