Final week for school admissions … leave those kids alone!

Well folks, it’s the final week for school admissions, our form is still on the desk and the email and Facebook buzz reaching new peaks of hysteria.

Our own family strategy has gone from ‘head in the sand’ via ‘this is bonkers’ to ‘quiet resignation’ (OK, I admit, none of those merits the term ‘strategy’.)

Since we live in North Hackney it’s been interesting to see Abbott-school-gate resurface again this week. Amazing how much stick she got (and still gets) for sending her son to the school of her choice.

But beside admissions and ‘choices’, the ethical dilemma we’re currently grappling is the sourcing of ethical school uniform. Our kids have just changed school and need a uniform by Monday. What to do?

Buy it dirt cheap in Asda or Matalan and hope that’s loss-leader pricing not sweatshop pricing? Upgrade to M&S in the hope that their school clothes are included in their much-trumpeted (and lauded) ‘Plan A’ corporate sustainability plan?

Ahh…. Google. Trusty old workhorse of transparency.

Exhibit A: Guardian article on ethical school uniform says “they’re all pretty much the same, we can’t work out which is best/least worst.” Isn’t someone missing a trick here – come on, steal a march on your competitors, give us a cuddly fairtrade-organic-25p-to-UNICEF option for a couple of quid more, invite Bianca Jagger and Sarah Brown to back it, shout it from the rooftops. You’ll bring us eco-worrier-mums flooding in.
Ethical school uniform: Guardian article by Leo Hickman, with useful debate summary

Exhibit B: Ethical Consumer report from 2008 says much the same – had to understand where retailers stand, not much between them. You can pick one based on your ethical preferences using their cool online slider.
Ethical Consumer Buyers Guide: Ethical School Uniform

Exhibit C: M&S website where after much rooting and searching and lateral thinking I hit paydirt:
Fairtrade School Uniform
So that’s me done. Three-pack of polo shirts and a pair of jogging bottoms for £11, all fairtrade cotton. Quite why my searching via ‘Plan A –> kids wear’ didn’t turn up this page is beyond me – there appeared to be no kids wear in the Plan A strategy on first search. Tsk. Lights out from under bushels, people!

That’s me happy. I try not to consume much, so when I’m forced to I like to use the opportunity to check out the high street’s ethical temperature. “Working on it but still a bit shy” is my conclusion on ethical school uniform. I resolve that come September we’ll be starting earlier and hitting Freecycle and the second hand uniform sales arranged by the school.

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