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Girls’ activity levels drop as they get older

The Youth Sport Trust, the UK’s leading charity for improving the education and development of every child through sport and play, in conjunction with the sports brand Limitless (Schoolblazer), surveyed over 1,500 students at 17 independent schools to reveal a cross-section of important data. For girls in particular, the data reveals barriers to participation that include a lack of confidence, specifically body confidence, as well as a perceived lack of competence. Just 41% of girls in independent schools are happy with the way their body looks compared to 63% of boys. Less than half (47%) of girls rate their overall confidence as ‘good’ compared to 71% of boys and 29% of girls listed ‘not being confident’ as a major barrier, compared to only 12% of boys. Clearly, the approach to PE and physical activity for girls needs a different approach. In terms of their preferred activities at school, team sports proved to be the most popular activities but girls also want more variety in general. Listening to young people and involving them in decisions about PE delivery may help to empower them and persuade those more reluctant to participate more. The research also showed an important split by age group in terms of motivations to be active. Younger children are encouraged much more by improving skills and having fun with their friends, where older children become more motivated by winning and are driven by playing and competing in a team. Taking all age groups together however, having fun and being healthy were still the main incentives to being active. The report concluded that empowerment, kit considerations and confidence are key areas for improvement, in order to encourage long-term engagement in an active lifestyle. The results of the study will be shared with the schools which have taken part and the wider sector, to help inform and develop relevant provision for pupils, and to promote a culture that encourages activity across the school. You can see the full report on the YST website. Limitless has already taken many of the findings on board. Limitless sales director Chris Marshall said: “Overall this research is a vital insight into the importance of body confidence in encouraging all pupils to be active. “We are reviewing our product offer in the light of this to ensure that the kit we provide, particularly for girls, builds self-confidence and encourages participation. “Our recent innovations with the Limitless bra and alternatives to traditional skorts shows the direction of travel, but there is more to do.” Amanda Vernalls, head of evaluation and research specialist at the Youth Sport Trust, said: “Without the support of organisations like Limitless, we wouldn’t be able to further understand the attitudes and barriers to physical activity, PE and sport for all young people. “The findings provide an important glimpse into girls’ relationships with physical activity, PE and sport in private schools. We hope this research will support schools to make informed choices and engage all young people by listening to students’ views.”
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Why do we have uniform in schools? There are many reasons, ranging from catering to our innate tribal instincts and uniting a student body, to keeping pupils’ concentration levels high in the classroom, to simply looking smart. It’s unlikely schools will be ditching them anytime soon. However, parents, teachers and students alike are calling for change. Arguments for gender-specific dress codes hold less and less water as the years go by and ethnic minority students are tired of fighting for their right to wear clothes and hairstyles that they are comfortable in at school. If schools are to be places of security for the adults of tomorrow and are to model the traits that they wish to see in the world at large, then we should surely make it as easy as possible for students to express their individual identities in daily school life. [caption id="attachment_36661" align="alignnone" width="790"] Versatile uniforms for Kensington Park School by Perry Uniform[/caption]  

The purpose of uniform

Wearing uniform is often thought to improve student performance; it can involve fewer day-to-day decisions and be less distracting and stressful for pupils, as it levels the playing field by reducing comparison. Some schools experimented with relaxing uniform rules during the Covid-19 pandemic. The effect on pupils was stark at Ludgrove School in Wokingham, where Kate Hamilton-Bowker is a teaching assistant. “We allowed the kids to wear home clothes during lockdown, but their motivation and engagement was not great. We then trialled putting them back in uniform for a week and their work ethic and output improved noticeably across all subjects,” she says. Mark Stevenson, co-chair of the Schoolwear Association and joint CEO of uniform provider Stevensons, says: “Uniform helps to alleviate inequality and reduce levels of bullying for students, by removing the pressure to dress in the latest fashion or high-street brands. “For schools, a uniform helps to promote a sense of pride in the school community and improve concentration in the classroom. Teachers who have seen an increase in disruptive behaviour on non-uniform days will not be surprised to hear that 60% of school leaders have found that uniform improves pupils’ educational outcomes.” [caption id="attachment_36665" align="alignnone" width="790"] Modern sportswear for Woldingham School by Schoolblazer[/caption]  

Gender and uniform

Historically, schools have had different uniform items for girls and boys. However, this can cause issues for students who identify differently from their gender assigned at birth. Caroline Bunting, managing director of uniform manufacturer Perry Uniform, says: “I recently interviewed the son of a friend who has transitioned and asked him about his experience when it came to wearing uniform. He told me that in his teenage years it was a huge issue to have to approach firstly his parents and then the school to ask if he did not have to wear the winter skirt.” Gender-neutral uniform policies are one solution. In 2019, Stevensons introduced changes to their product ranges and packaging to support schools looking to move to gender-neutral uniform options. Stevenson explains: “The majority of examples where schools have switched to a gender-neutral uniform policy is to meet the needs of a child that is transitioning and are adapting their uniform rules accordingly.” To be clear, a gender-neutral uniform is not about forcing students to wear a different ‘neutral’ style of uniform. It’s about offering more choice with items that avoid distinguishing roles according to gender. For example, if a girl wishes to dress in a skirt, she should be as allowed to do so as before, only now a boy may also choose to wear a skirt if he wishes. Harvey*, who teaches at an independent school in South London, says: “I think the sense of belonging and promoting the collective identity raises an important question for gender-neutral uniforms. Uniforms do a great job at promoting belonging if students buy into the collective identity of the school. However, if the school’s collective identity is not one that speaks to students, they are much less likely to buy into the uniform.” In 2019, the Welsh government updated statutory guidelines to say that, in Wales, “schools’ uniform policies should not dictate different items of clothing on the basis of sex/gender”. This sort of development may soon be on its way for the rest of the UK too. There are also issues with gender-specific uniforms reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes. Let Clothes Be Clothes’s recent report, School Uniform: Dressing Girls to Fail, shows that in over 70% of state schools girls’ uniform options cost significantly more than boys’ uniform, due to less generic ‘bought anywhere’ items. There were also more complex rules around dress codes for girls, and the term ‘modesty’ was used in girls’ uniform policies only. Tim James, co-founder of uniform supplier Schoolblazer, says it is important to ensure girls have enough choices that make them feel comfortable, and they are moving fast to develop more options for female students. “While research shows that most girls want to wear skirts, and we would support their continuation, many girls want an option and some actively feel uncomfortable or even exposed in a skirt. Trousers are the obvious option, along with shorts or cullottes,” he says. [caption id="attachment_36662" align="alignnone" width="790"] Sutton High School signed the Halo Code to prevent discrimination against afro hair (Pictured: student Sharntae)[/caption]  

Cultural differences

Schools must make sure their uniform policies are inclusive of religious minority students, who may, for example, want to wear a longer skirt for religious reasons. These differences must be accommodated with enthusiasm if schools wish to be places of security and comfort for young people. There are plenty of documented instances of discrimination against people with afro-textured hair (despite it being illegal) in schools, and many more undocumented, with Black people being told that their hair looks ‘unprofessional’. According to the Halo Collective, whose mission is to end hair inequality, 58% of Black students experience name-calling or uncomfortable questions about their hair at school. Schools can sign up to the Halo Code to show their support for students with afro hairstyles and ensure their uniform rules do not pressurise these students to change their hair. Sutton High School was the first independent girls’ school to adopt the Halo Code, but many others have also joined, including Blackheath High School and Nottingham Girls’ High School. [caption id="attachment_36663" align="alignnone" width="790"] Uniform by Schoolblazer[/caption]  

Making a change

Let Clothes Be Clothes explores what gender-neutral uniform could look like in practice, with a choice of “generic trousers, shorts, dresses and skirts for all pupils”. And Educate & Celebrate, which provides LGBT+ inclusion training for staff, have provided an example of a gender-neutral uniform policy online. James says schools need to think about what the true problem is before making any changes. “Is it a small number of vocal pupils, a single transitioning pupil or a wider issue about choice? The solutions vary. For a pupil who genuinely wishes to present as another gender, usually the relevant uniform is fully available, although some fit modifications may be needed. If the issue is a worry about stereotyping, then the addition of some choices to the girls’ uniform may be the most appropriate response.” Harvey points out that the process of making big changes may not be straightforward. “There needs to be an anticipation of the response. Would gender-neutral uniforms be introduced to replace current uniforms or as a second/third option for students? In the former case, some students might feel that their uniforms are being changed in a way they dislike and in the latter option, the wearing of these new uniforms could become stigmatised or a worry for bullying.” Stevenson advises schools to work closely with their uniform suppliers before choosing to adopt a gender-neutral uniform. He says: “It is vital that they consider stock availability and costs so that any chosen style does not have a difference in price between equivalent options. The lack of classification between garments can be confusing for the majority of parents, so it is vital that communication is clear between schools, suppliers, parents and pupils to ensure that the change is successful.” As highly respected social institutions, schools must go the extra mile in terms of being accommodating of difference and individuality. Harvey adds: “If schools can be more inclusive, it should send the message that society at large can be too.” *Name has been changed

Gender identity and expression

“Gender identity is someone’s personal and intimate sense of their own gender. Gender expression is how they choose to reflect their gender identity in their physical appearance. “Don’t make assumptions about someone’s gender based on the way they dress – it may not reflect their gender identity or the appearance usually associated with their gender identity.” Source:
Sponsored by: [post_title] => Making school uniforms more inclusive [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => making-school-uniforms-more-inclusive [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-10-04 15:58:10 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-10-04 14:58:10 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 36591 [post_author] => 56 [post_date] => 2021-10-01 00:00:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-09-30 23:00:28 [post_content] => For many years, the critical issue in girls’ uniform was how to present themselves in a smart fashion reflective of our society’s values. Instead of focusing on the opportunities for girls that could be promoted through their uniform choices, uniform became quite stuck in a pattern of ‘skirts for girls, trousers for boys’ and this is still the case in the majority of schools. This worked well for a time and many girls are comfortable in a traditional skirt, however the world has changed. Following the issues raised by Everyone’s Invited, schools are re-examining their approach. The outcome is clear: modern girls want to feel confident and comfortable in the clothes they wear. They object to the way that many traditional garments make them feel exposed and vulnerable, and particularly dislike being unable to join in with activities because of the restrictive clothes that they are wearing. The pressure group Let Clothes be Clothes has researched this area in depth, highlighting the concerns and suggesting steps forwards. Schoolblazer have worked closely with them to support their campaign. Their research clearly showed that: ● Most girls want the choice of wearing skirts and support a gender-neutral uniform policy that provides wider choice, not less. This allows pupils to feel more comfortable, more active and crucially, less objectified. The campaign spoke to girls who sometimes felt “vulnerable” in skirts, but wanted options, rather than being made to change their behaviour in respect of the wrongful actions of someone else. ● All garments should be designed to build confidence and free movement. Restrictive skirts or garments that expose more flesh than pupils feel comfortable with should be optional. Fundamentally, for most it was a question of choice. [caption id="attachment_36795" align="alignnone" width="790"] Sheffield High School[/caption]   Schoolblazer have also just undertaken a major research project with Youth Sport Trust to identify the drivers behind participation in sporting activity. The results are shocking, particularly for girls in independent schools. Whilst 88% of girls enjoyed taking part in physical activity, and 92% understood the importance of an active lifestyle, just 58% were happy with the amount of physical activity they did. When asked the reasons for their shortfall in activity, 29% said “they did not feel confident” and a similar number said “they did not enjoy people watching me”. The goal of all clothing manufacturers, across uniform or sportswear is to create garments which build confidence and allow young people to focus on their school experience – not to make the wearers lose morale or feel uncomfortable. Schoolblazer have responded to this challenge across our whole business – tailoring and sportswear. For the majority of schools, on uniform the addition of a trouser option will suffice. A number have moved further. Sheffield High School introduced a bespoke culotte and trousers in a plaid to match the main skirt for their launch this year, whilst Charterhouse introduced a culotte for their new girls intake in 2021. In sportswear, across our Limitless brand we are seeing more schools adopting shorts or leggings rather than the traditional skorts for girls, and our new range we have developed with Umbro is very strongly short-focused, reflecting their experience kitting out the ‘Red Roses’ RFU women’s team. Finally, we are working hard on alternatives to summer dresses, talking to customers, following trends and working with industry experts to ensure our garments are right for the modern world, fit well and are created in the most sustainable way. It’s been more than 100 years since girls stopped riding side-saddle and started climbing trees. We think it’s time that uniform and sportswear caught up!
W: [post_title] => The changing face of girls’ uniforms [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-changing-face-of-girls-uniforms [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-09-30 13:44:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-09-30 12:44:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27310 [post_author] => 56 [post_date] => 2020-09-29 00:00:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-09-28 23:00:25 [post_content] => The news has been dominated by Covid-19 over the last six months, and rightly so, but in that time, we seem to have lost focus on another important issue: the environment. We have all seen the images of beauty spots covered in litter, where social distancing and a simple need to get outside seems to have pushed environmental concerns to one side. In addition, the increase of plastic bags to avoid contamination in home food deliveries is just one example of where we’ve needed to focus on different priorities to get through this difficult time safely. It’s concerning that the focus on the environment seems to have become a bit lost. However, there is some good news. School uniform suppliers and retailers are at the forefront of the green revolution in the clothing industry and are leading the fight to deliver more sustainable products.

Durability = sustainability

Schoolwear is already amongst the least environmentally damaging clothing sectors – simply by dint of the number of times the garments are worn. According to research by Barnardo’s, the average garment in the UK is worn just seven times. The average school uniform garment, in contrast, is worn over 300 times. To produce a single cotton T-shirt or blouse uses 3,000 litres of water and creates 11kg of CO2. The message is clear. Sustainability begins with a simple premise: buy fewer garments and wear them out. By adopting a smart and consistent school uniform, and encouraging recirculation of barely worn garments, school uniforms in the UK are estimated to save the global economy some 13 million tonnes of CO2.

Recycled polyester

Many retailers are now using recycled polyester in sportswear and even blazers. Harvested from used plastic bottles, the polyester is respun and either blended with new fibre or used as a pure yarn. Every kilogram of recycled polyester uses up to five recycled bottles, which would otherwise find their way into landfill, or even worse into the world’s oceans. In addition, reusing polyester this way substantially reduces the carbon footprint of the finished garment, avoiding the need to create new polyester, which requires over 5kg of CO2 per tonne of yarn produced.

Sustainable cotton

Cotton is a very thirsty crop, requiring immense amounts of water for irrigation. But it tends to be grown in arid areas where water is a precious resource. Arguably, organic cotton is not the solution. This focuses on pesticide and fertiliser use, and whilst these are problems, the major issue is water loss. The Better Cotton Initiative educates farmers in water and land husbandry, and drives best practice across the industry. Leading and forward-thinking schoolwear retailers such as Schoolblazer are now members of the Better Cotton Initiative and are actively working with suppliers across the schoolwear industry to ensure that the cotton sourced is sustainable.

Reducing packaging

There is a significant push across the industry to reduce plastic packaging. Whilst this is often vital to protect garments, there is a renewed focus on ensuring any packaging used is minimised and recycled. Stevensons have now moved all of their carrier bags to a biodegradable plastic and Schoolblazer have removed over 50% of their outer packaging and moved to 100% recycled shipping bags for their online orders. In conclusion, whilst a school uniform may not, at first glance, look like the greenest thing on the planet, there is clear evidence that the fight for sustainability and a reduced environmental impact is helped by a strong and consistent policy. Schools can help by encouraging the recycling of garments through second-hand schemes and by ensuring that their suppliers are at the forefront of initiatives to reduce the environmental impact even further. Meanwhile the schoolwear industry will continue to put the drive towards ethical and environmental awareness at the top of the agenda.
W: [post_title] => The school uniform industry looks to an environmentally-friendly future [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-school-uniform-industry-looks-to-an-environmentally-friendly-future [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-09-28 16:33:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-09-28 15:33:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24979 [post_author] => 56 [post_date] => 2020-06-03 11:57:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-06-03 10:57:46 [post_content] => As recently as 2006 the main method of uniform supply in independent schools was an onsite school shop. Indeed, almost half of all HMC schools had an onsite shop at this time with similar figures amongst GSA and SoH schools. Over the last decade or so that picture has changed dramatically. Schools have responded to the changing needs of parents and recognised that an efficient online service is the solution for most dual-income, busy families. Schoolblazer are the clear market leader, having invested heavily in intelligent sizing – to avoid the need for fitting and to minimise returns. Now 30% of schools in HMC, SoH or GSA are with Schoolblazer and the percentage of schools still running an onsite in that group has declined to just 18%. [caption id="attachment_24980" align="alignnone" width="752"] Fig1: Since 2006 the number of school shops in HMC, GSA and SoH schools has halved whilst Schoolblazer’s online solution is now the preferred choice of supply.[/caption] Those schools that did take the plunge and move online haven’t looked back. Jean Marc Hodgson, bursar at Bedford Girls’ was an early adopter: “I could see that online retailing was the future. When I took over, I was assured that our onsite shop was profitable, but it quickly became clear it wasn’t once excess stock, returns and salaries were fully included. “Added to that it was a constant source of parental complaints and using up valuable on-site space. We moved to Schoolblazer and since then school uniform has been managed by a company that knows the sector inside out and has superb customer service, allowing me to focus on more strategic matters.” This move away from onsite shops is set to accelerate with Covid-19. The government’s guidelines for retail are clear and onerous:
  • Fitting rooms should be closed – so pupils are unable to try on garments, which has been the traditional role of the shop.
  • Returned items should be quarantined for 72 hours – easy enough online, but almost impossible with the limited sizes and limited space of a school shop.
  • Staff should be protected with protective screens and handwashing – driving yet more expense for schools with other priorities.
  Whilst limited time means that back to school 2020 will need to be delivered with the current set-up, help is at hand for schools wishing to move forwards for 2021. Founder of Schoolblazer, Robin Horsell, said: “I founded Schoolblazer having experienced first-hand the frustrations of being forced to visit a traditional school shop. I knew there was a better way and online provided the solution. Since then we have invested in our intelligent sizing system to ensure first-time fit for all pupils and work hard to ensure our system is as convenient as possible, including free no-quibble returns and sewn-in nametapes. “Schools have realised that the school shop ties-up valuable working capital and space which can all be put to more productive use. Following a trickle of initial enquiries, we would urge any school wishing to review their supply arrangements to get in touch. We have moved almost 200 schools online over the last decade so can help support the process.” Whilst uniform is not the top priority at the moment – schools quite rightly are focused on reopening their classrooms – parents’ expectations of online convenience have been set during lockdown and won’t go away. Schoolblazer are here to help. [post_title] => Will social distancing spell the end for school shops? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => will-social-distancing-spell-the-end-for-school-shops [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-06-03 12:10:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-06-03 11:10:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22438 [post_author] => 56 [post_date] => 2020-01-07 00:00:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-01-07 00:00:38 [post_content] =>

The fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon emissions and has a poor reputation for ethical trading and sustainability. A survey by Barnardo’s in 2015 showed that the average ‘fast fashion’ garment is worn just seven times.

The 2019 parliamentary report on the fashion industry highlighted widespread abuses of both environmental and workers’ protection, not just in distant countries but in sweatshops in Leicester and across the UK. Manufacturing close to home is no guarantee of workers’ welfare and making the odd item from Chinese-sourced ‘recycled polyester’ does little to reduce the overall environmental impact of production.

Schoolblazer believes that school uniform is inherently greener: our average garment is worn over 400 times, with a clear ‘circular economy’ in secondhand. Our overriding principle is durability = sustainability. We cannot shop our way to a greener planet; consuming anything has costs and the less ‘wear’ an item offers, the more it needs to be replaced.

Our average garment is worn over 400 times, with a clear ‘circular economy’ in secondhand

We have set ourselves a series of challenging environmental targets:

1. Carbon neutrality

Schoolblazer is now a zero-carbon company. We’ve analysed our operational carbon footprint in detail and reduced our emissions where we can. Where we’ve been unable to eliminate our energy use, we have offset the carbon created through our partnership with carbon footprint.

2. Clean wastewater

We have put measures in place to ensure that all of our suppliers and mills have wastewater treatment plants that meet the highest environmental standards.

3. Removing single-use plastics

We have an ambitious plan to ‘ship naked’, which we’ll be trialling over summer 2020. However, the overwhelming majority protect our garments as they pass through our supply chain from manufacturer to our customers, so we need to ensure less than 2% of our garments are damaged in transit to avoid neutralising the benefits gained from going plastic-free. If these tests are successful, our plan is to roll-out our ‘ship naked’ system to many more garments in 2021.

4. Recycled polyester

Where possible, we are working to replace the polyester fibre in our garments with recycled polyester, with a plan for 25% of our polyester to be from recycled sources by 2022.

5. Responsible cotton

Cotton tends to be grown in areas of the world with water shortages and poor labour standards. We are a member of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which promotes sustainable cotton growth, teaching farmers how to manage their land and water use sustainably. We have a drive to use BCI cotton in our garments where we can, with a target of 50% BCI cotton by the end of 2022.

Human rights for all workers

Schoolblazer also has a serious commitment to ethical trading. We believe that free and fair trade is an important way to spread wealth around the world and know that the global textile trade is a major engine to lift people out of poverty. As responsible global citizens, we also know that poor working practices are no respecters of borders or laws, as recent scandals involving slave conditions in some of Leicester’s textile factories show. The solution is to adopt consistent standards across our supply base and ensure that these are adhered to.

We are foundation members of The Ethical Trading Initiative, an organisation of retailers, NGOs and unions dedicated to driving the highest ethical standards, with a focus on the following:

Freely chosen employment

Freedom of association

Safe and hygienic workplaces

No child labour

Living wages

No excessive working hours

No discrimination

Regular employment

No harsh or inhumane treatment

For more information on each of these, visit

For more information on our partnership with the ETI, visit

[post_title] => Rising to the environmental challenge with sustainable schoolwear [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => rising-to-the-environmental-challenge-with-sustainable-schoolwear [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-04-23 09:23:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-04-23 08:23:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20670 [post_author] => 43 [post_date] => 2019-10-15 00:00:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-14 23:00:48 [post_content] =>

There’s an interesting contradiction inherent in the ethics and environment debates currently taking place.

On the one hand, retailers need to reduce single-use plastics, their carbon footprint and their reliance on non-sustainable materials. On the other, they are under increasing pressure from all sides to reduce their prices to meet the demand for quality garments at bargain-basement prices. Back-to-school has become a flashpoint, with parents opting for basic uniform sets from popular retailers that sell for as little as £3.75.

Great price. But at what cost?

Whereas with, for example, single-use plastics, we are more active consumers, choosing to use a ‘bag for life’ or refusing a bag altogether at checkout, when it comes to ethics, we are prepared to ‘buy’ what manufacturers are telling us about their ethical trade practices, just as long as we don’t have to give up getting what we want. We are unprepared to face the inconvenience of the so-called truths that we are not being told. We want to purchase something that gives us change from a tenner while leaving our consciences intact.

Here are just a few hard facts

Ethical trade abuses continue unchecked in developing countries, with little regulation or accountability

Bangladeshi workers are making uniforms for UK budget retailers that sell for less than the cost of the uniforms they have to buy for their own children. And they can’t afford to buy them.

If you think sourcing your garments in the UK/EU is a safe bet, think again

In Bulgaria, some textile workers do 24-hour shifts for less than €100 per month. The UK has been under the spotlight with the exposing of ‘dark factories’ in Leicester, where the average worker wage is £4.25 per hour.

High fashion doesn’t escape either

A high-profile Made in Italy label has been found to pay sweatshop wages of about 90p per hour.

This has to stop

As the leading uniform supplier to UK independent schools, Schoolblazer is determined to lead by example. To this end, it is the only specialist schoolwear retailer in the UK which is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative – an alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that are promoting respect for workers’ rights around the globe. This includes freely chosen employment and union membership; safe, hygienic working conditions; no child labour; a living wage; reasonable working hours; regular employment; and freedom from discrimination and maltreatment.

While the environment is front and centre in the news and in our hearts and minds (as it should be), it’s critical that we look at the other side of the equation – the one that offers a fuller picture, yet which is being neglected, and to the detriment of both.

“We think it’s vital that we know about where our clothing is sourced, who is making it, and the conditions in which they are working,” says Schoolblazer co-founder, Tim James.

“Our mission is to create uniforms that are made to last, using designs that are classic to avoid the built-in obsolescence adopted by many fashion labels and lines, where styles are changed regularly and discarded easily.

“While taking care of our environment is critical, unless and until people are supported and remunerated well – until they thrive instead of simply eking out an existence – then they suffer, and the environment suffers along with them. Understanding this symbiotic relationship between the two is what is going to effect positive change for both.”

To find out more about Schoolblazer, visit: [post_title] => The contradiction in the school uniform debate [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-contradiction-in-the-school-uniform-debate [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-09-04 07:47:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-09-04 06:47:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 15856 [post_author] => 43 [post_date] => 2019-01-10 00:00:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-10 00:00:31 [post_content] => It is well known that school uniforms create a sense of identity for pupils and provide a level playing field where students can focus on academic and sporting excellence rather than worrying about dressing to impress. Increasingly uniform is seen as a key component of the school’s brand and ethos, allowing the school to project its values and identify. When school uniform was first introduced in the 16th century the garments worn were designed to prepare their students for the world of work and society, with frock coats and hose being common. Some schools have retained this, whilst most evolved into a simpler blazer and grey trousers look after the Second World War. We are now in the middle of a new revolution. A recent study found that only 1 in 10 people wear a suit to work, with over 75% of offices adopting a casual dress code. The challenge is clear: to create a relaxed and comfortable uniform which looks smart and builds pride, whilst reflecting the less structured and more relaxed approach of the modern workplace.
There has been a real change over the last few years. We are able to show much more variation and innovation, and we’re seeing many of our ideas adopted
Schoolblazer, the leading uniform supplier to independent schools, have embraced this trend. Employing recent graduates from some of the UK’s leading fashion design courses, and working with the world’s leading textile suppliers, they have been at the forefront of the move to bring a new sense of style to uniform. Working closely with the school’s branding consultants and leadership teams, the garments are carefully created to reflect the school’s ideology and distinction. The company then run extensive focus group research amongst pupils and parents. Whilst the changes have been subtle so far, the cumulative effects are large. Gone are the days of a simple navy blazer and badge. Instead the focus is on details, with jacquard linings and bespoke fabrics providing the school identity, and a move towards softer fabrics, such as tweed, pioneering the development of more relaxed tailoring. Co-Founder Robin Horsell adds: “There has been a real change over the last few years. We are able to show much more variation and innovation, and we’re seeing many of our ideas adopted. We are excited by many of the new ideas our design team are presenting and are looking forward to sharing these with our schools.” W:  [post_title] => A changing uniform for a changing world [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => a-changing-uniform-for-a-changing-world [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-08-27 16:37:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-08-27 15:37:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 236 [post_author] => 63 [post_date] => 2018-10-09 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-10-08 23:00:00 [post_content] =>

For independent schools, the need to present themselves as institutions that are both traditional and modern has always been something of a balancing act. But in today’s marketplace, what key issues do independent schools need to be aware of when it comes to updating their school uniform, and how are things changing?

For a lot of independent schools, updating their uniform is a key way to tie in with the rebranding of their entire marketing activity. This is something that Clare Burrows, Account Director at uniform supplier Schoolblazer, has seen through her work with Croydon High School, which recently refreshed its logo with the introduction of a striking lime colour.  

Commenting further, Clare said: “They wanted this colour taken through into their uniform too. This is quite typical of what we are seeing in terms of independent schools refreshing their uniform with new branding and new colours.”

In addition, Clare has also seen a common theme develop for girls’ schools, in terms of not just putting the school’s crest on their blazers as a way to identify their uniform. She added: “In fact we’re seeing more subtle elements like a contrast trim being introduced instead, showing that uniform doesn’t need to be overtly branded in order to work.” 

John Stevenson is Joint Managing Director at Stevensons, which was established in 1925. They supply uniform to over 500 schools across the UK, and have seen a big shift towards independent schools investing in sportswear over the last three years. Commenting further, John said: “Whilst sportswear has always been a key consideration for independent schools when choosing outfitters, this area continues to develop at a rapid pace. 

“Independent schools have a need for modern technical kit that they can be proud to compete and perform in, whilst being mindful of cost and availability to parents all year round. As designs and the requirements of kit are ever-changing – we have indeed undertaken a record number of sportswear redesigns this year – it is not uncommon for schools to look to develop their range every three years or so and so retailers need to be proactive and competitive with their kit offering.”

Burgess Hill Girls

Engaging stakeholders

When it comes to an independent school looking to update its school uniform, it’s important that they seek the thoughts of their key stakeholders, such as pupils, parents, staff and governors before making a decision. The most effective way to do this is through a focus group, but it’s vital that the senior leadership team has a good idea of how they’d like the uniform to look before they start the process so that a consensus of opinion can be achieved.

As Clare Burrows explains: “For focus groups, we prefer to give attendees a limited number of options for each item, based on what the preference of senior management is. Less is definitely more and it’s about making them feel engaged, rather than delegating the whole process to them.” 

At Stevensons, they believe it’s important for independent schools to offer parents a range of purchasing options, rather than just relying on online stores. They have seen a change in the shopping environment over the last few years, and have seen an increase in parents wanting to get professional advice about products through face-to-face interactions with staff, rather than just using the internet. As John Stevenson explains: “We have 14 high-street locations across the country, as for independent schools we know that although parents like ordering online, they also like visiting us in store. 

“The reason for this is that they want to have interactions with staff in order to understand what uniform is compulsory and what’s optional, as well as to find out more about tailoring options too.”

Manchester High School for Girls

Manchester High School for Girls is a leading independent school for girls aged 4–18. The school had a long-standing association with black and gold throughout their kit, however, this had no special relevance to the school’s rich history. After a detailed consultation, the school worked with Stevensons to redevelop their uniform and sportswear and highlight their heritage.

Speaking about the rebrand, John Stevenson said: “As the school has a strong link with the Suffragette movement, a detailed design process was undertaken and the colours from the Suffragette movement can now be seen represented throughout the school’s very distinctive uniform and sportswear kit. 

“After much consultation through focus groups, presentations and design meetings, contemporary designs were identified. 

As a result, a whole new range of uniform and sportswear is now available through Stevensons’ various retail channels and will be worn by all pupils from reception through to Year 10 this September.”

Manchester High School for Girls

Edge Grove School 

Edge Grove School is a day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3–13 years old in Hertfordshire. When the school was established in 1935, the school’s uniform was only available for parents to purchase at Harrods and then John Lewis. However, as time has gone on, the school has realised the importance of choosing an accessible supplier so that the process of purchasing uniform is made much easier.

Speaking of how things have changed, Headmaster Ben Evans said: “I believe that it’s really important for independent schools to understand how parents buy uniform and make it as easy for them as possible by taking away any stress. For us at Edge Grove School, this means that parents should be able to go online or buy from local shops, and we even have our own second-hand uniform shop at the school too.”

Pupils at the school have always worn distinctive maroon blazers and red woollen jumpers, which is a tradition that they want to retain. In addition, the comfort of pupils is also the most important factor when it comes to considering new items of uniform. Commenting further, Ben said: “There is only one machine left in the whole country that will produce our red woollen jumpers, and despite our supplier asking if we wanted to change it to polyester V-neck instead, this item is specific to us and part of our identity. 

“For us, it’s about getting the balance between a uniform that is smart and serviceable and is also easy to maintain – but ultimately the comfort of the pupil is always what is most important.”

Edge Grove School

Burgess Hill Girls

Liz Laybourn is Head of Burgess Hill Girls, an independent school for girls in Sussex that was founded in 1906. When the school opened, it only had nine pupils and so a uniform wasn’t needed. However, in 1914 a square-necked, navy blue gymslip, made by a local lady, was introduced. Following this, a school blazer was introduced in 1922, a grey kilt with a blue blouse, blue jumper plus a dress was rolled-out in 1985 and the kilt then changed colour to navy in early 2000.

In 2016, the previous Head of Burgess Hill Girls undertook a rebrand, which involved the school’s uniform being modernised. As part of this, it was important for the school to keep an element of tradition, as well as ensure that their uniform was different to that of other local schools.

Speaking of the reaction to the rebrand and their future plans, Liz Laybourn said: “We were lucky that the choice went down well with the majority of parents and girls. Our aim was to minimise the number of garments required by ensuring there was an option to change only a couple of items when transitioning to Senior School from Junior School.

“The Sixth Form Suit was a completely new item as the girls wore their own clothes. It was also well received and many of the students welcomed the suit.  

“In the foreseeable future I do not envisage a huge change as the current uniform is well-liked. However, there are a few items I would like to revisit. It is always important to keep the review in mind and move with the times whilst considering the costs to parents.”

Lady Eleanor Holles

Lady Eleanor Holles (LEH) launched a new school uniform (above) for its Senior School in 2017 and tried to balance finding a smart uniform that the girls would enjoy wearing with one that was practical and not expensive. They canvassed the opinions of students, parents and staff to ensure that their chosen style would be met with approval and, commenting further, Jenny Blaiklock, Director of Development and Communications, said: “When Mrs Hanbury arrived at the school nearly four years ago, one of the comments most often made to her was that the girls looked scruffy and that the school uniform was rather dull and outdated.

“With the help of our focus groups, we reached an agreement on a smart, practical and stylish new uniform. Gone are the boring grey sweatshirts and in has come the new up-to-date uniform which is reflective of the school’s heritage.” 

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Hardly a day goes by without a new aspect of the transgender debate. The recent GSA conference in Manchester received plenty of press coverage in this area, and a number of schools have created working groups to look in detail at this issue.

As the leading supplier of uniforms to independent schools in the UK, Schoolblazer recognise that uniform is at the heart of this debate. We have been working closely with a number of schools and organisations in the field and have learned a lot over the last few years. Our role is to find a pragmatic solution to the philosophy that the school wishes to adopt and to find a way to make that work within the practical constraints of production. 

What we’ve learnt

Whilst the headlines in the media are largely around ‘transitioning’ this is a tiny percentage of cases. The overwhelming urge in schools is to be ‘less gendered’ rather than to support ‘transitioners’. This is a very important distinction for a garment manufacturer. A girl transitioning to a boy may simply want to be given the option to purchase and wear a boy’s uniform, including boy’s trousers. The numbers also mean that we can manufacture a special one-off set of garments in these circumstances. However, in a less gendered environment many girls may wish to wear trousers which still fit them as girls, but are less gender polarising than skirts.

So what have we done?

 - Prefer not to say 

Our website initially asks parents to input the gender of their child. We use this to direct parents to the correct page and also as part of our sizing algorithms to recommend the correct-sized garments, both now and in the future. For a number of our schools we have added a ‘prefer not to say’ gender. When this is ticked pupils are presented with a broader selection of garments which allows them to create a neutral gender.

 - Pins and ties

Norwich School in Norfolk have gone one stage further and abolished girls’ and boys’ uniforms, replacing the titles with pins and ties. Pupils registering on our site as girls are presented with the ‘pin’ uniform, whilst boys are initially presented with ‘ties’. However, all communication stresses that either may be selected, but must be worn in its entirety. 

 - Girls versions of the boy’s uniform

We are seeing more schools asking for girls trousers and have worked closely to develop a style that is flattering. A number of schools this summer are seeking to develop a girl’s version of the boys’ uniform, with a jacket and trouser option that matches the boys but which is fitted to girls. There is naturally a significant on-cost to this as we proliferate items and stock, however, if handled with care it can be achieved.

The overriding lesson is that the policy must be set by the school who need clarity and understanding of their direction of travel. As the uniform supplier we do not seek to set this agenda. However, our role is to then ensure that this policy goal can be transferred into a practical and affordable solution, which does not confuse the majority but enhances the choice options for whom this is a concern.

With our integrated supply chain, where we are managing all aspects of production, from fabric sourcing through garment design to manufacture, we believe Schoolblazer are uniquely placed to support schools through this issue. We’d be happy to discuss our solutions and ideas in more detail. 


[post_title] => School uniform for all, thanks to Schoolblazer [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => school-uniform-for-all-thanks-to-schoolblazer [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-01-02 11:55:10 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-01-02 11:55:10 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 852 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-12-17 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-12-16 23:00:00 [post_content] => It’s a disappointing conclusion: women are less likely to take part in sport than men. According to Sport England, two million fewer women play sport regularly than men aged 14 to 40, and yet 75% of them would like to be more active. With girls dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys before adulthood, it is increasingly apparent that something needs to be done to encourage girls back into sports and exercise. With self-consciousness and low self-esteem being two of several factors which can negatively influence girls’ participation in sports, it is more important than ever to develop quality, comfortable sportswear that girls feel good in. In the past, women’s and girls’ activewear was often based on men’s sports apparel, just in smaller sizes; inevitably, the fit could be unflattering and uninspiring. Thankfully, things have changed; as the ‘athleisure’ trend has taken hold in recent years, we are seeing fashion influence activewear to create technical, high-performance products tailored to women. Now, this trend is making its way into school sportswear. Squadkit has listened to what girls want to create the ‘Fitness Kit’, a range of fashionable, high-performance products that not only incorporate school uniform standards, but also are in keeping with the school brand. Better still, Fitness Kit garments are suitable for several different sports – saving our customers money in the long run. Responding to the increasing number of schools which are introducing gym and fitness into the sports curriculum, the range includes an innovative, flattering T-shirt made from breathable fabrics, and new running shorts featuring a dual fabric design. But perhaps the favourite garment from the range is the fitness legging. Taking inspiration from the movement of wearing yoga pants both in and out of the gym, the Squadkit design team has worked to create a multi-purpose garment ideal for any form of training. Tailoring designed to fit adolescent girls, a deep waistband, and high-performance fabrics form a flattering garment that makes girls look the part. The leggings are warm enough to wear outside as well as indoors, making them truly versatile and multi-purpose. The highly technical product features a moisture wicking inside layer, and a smooth, friction-minimising upper surface. The result is a product which will keep girls warm, dry and comfortable so that they can perform at their best – without compromising on style. Too often, functional garments look uninspiring in appearance, while design-led garments may fall short of the physical and technical requirements. With the fitness legging exceeding standards on all fronts, we hope to inspire girls to get back outside and active again. As the ‘activewear as fashion’ trend shows no sign of declining in popularity, Squadkit’s design team looks forward to continuing to work in conjunction with Schoolblazer and international athletes, using its expertise in sourcing cutting-edge fabrics which deliver high-performance products: leading the way in school sports.       [post_title] => Squadkit: Sport never goes out of style [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => squadkit-sport-never-goes-out-of-style [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-11-29 16:37:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-11-29 16:37:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1098 [post_author] => 57 [post_date] => 2017-10-09 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-08 23:00:00 [post_content] =>

Tim James, Co-Founder of Schoolblazer and ex-Marketing Director of Homebase: 
“We see uniform as the main signifier of the school brand. It is the element that is seen around town. Clothing expresses our identity and uniform is no different, from soft tweeds to show a more relaxed, country style, to pin stripes to show a sharper, more city style. All can reflect the brand, with bespoke yarns and colours to create a sense of real identity.” 

Georgia Dungate, Design Manager of Schoolblazer with a degree in fashion and design: 
“Sometimes schools forget that, unless pupils want to wear the clothes they’ll wear them badly. Since I joined just over a year ago we’ve relooked at lots of our garments, focusing on improving the fit and styling, from simple things like improving the cut and fit of the jackets to introducing new shapes in knitwear and skirts to reflect changing trends.” 

Charlotte Goodall, Uniform Buyer: 
“When I started working in schoolwear every product we saw from our suppliers was made with the most basic fabrics. I set out to change that and worked with some of the world’s leading textile experts. There have been amazing advances in fabrics over the last few years, improving comfort, durability and washability. I think our customers deserve to see these fabrics in schoolwear.” 

Robin Horsell, Co-Founder of Schoolblazer and ex-Board Director of Dewhirst: 
“When we started the company we worked with the schools to develop new products but often forgot the pupils and parents. We’ve learned the hard way that involvement creates buy-in and now try to ensure that all of our design proposals are presented to parents and pupils in focus groups and that feedback is taken and acted upon.” 

Louise Crofts, Managing Director, Schoolblazer: 
“Too often schools select a supplier based on a simple cost comparison, or put up with poor service for too long. Logistics in schoolwear is hard, almost one in eight of our annual sales happens in the week of back to school. The best companies invest heavily in stock and a supply chain to cope with this demand and then survey their customers annually to work out where they need to improve.
'The overall lessons are that school uniform is increasingly seen by schools as a fundamental part of their identity, something that can be changed and redeveloped and is an ever more important part of their image. Done badly it’s a source of parental angst and an irritant. Done well it’s a source of pride and a demonstration of the school’s ethos.
'Uniform development and supply is a complex business requiring real expertise in design, fabric, marketing and logistics and the market is changing fast with new entrants who understand these factors rapidly replacing the traditional suppliers.”


[post_title] => 5 lessons in developing a new uniform [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => 5-lessons-in-developing-a-new-uniform [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-08-27 16:37:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-08-27 15:37:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1749 [post_author] => 53 [post_date] => 2017-02-21 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-21 00:00:00 [post_content] =>

Schoolblazer is now widely recognised across the UK as the leader in design and development of uniform and sportswear.

Burgess Hill Girls approached Schoolblazer in early 2015 following the appointment of Kathryn Bell as the new Head. Kathryn had a very clear vision for the school, a school for ‘Only Motivated Girls’ or ‘OMGs’. However, the previous uniform was drab and undistinctive, failing to reflect the modern ethos of the school and nurturing nature of the surroundings.

Schoolblazer worked with design agency Kilvington, who specialise in school branding, and who had been tasked to develop a new brand identity for Burgess Hill Girls. The agency conducted detailed focus groups with pupils and the results of these were very clear. 

The girls wanted a unique and distinctive style that built on the heritage of the school but was still modern and fashionable. The school’s blue colour scheme was important, but the desire was to move away from a ‘plain’ blue jacket.

They also commented that the sportswear should be distinctive with a real stand-out look. Sport is a critical part of the school’s life and identity, however, local schools are all in a dominant navy-based colour scheme, and the school wanted a unique look.

Our designers then got to work. 

We presented a series of concepts and mood boards, showcasing shapes and ideas. Then we worked with the UK’s leading textile mills to develop a fabric which fully reflected the style and colours. Finally, we worked together to develop some high-impact sportswear under the Squadkit brand. Squadkit has been developed with the world’s leading sportswear fabric suppliers to bring new levels of breathability and performance to the school market.

The result is a unique uniform that uses the new distinctive ‘B’ branding, sometimes in quite subtle ways like in the jacquard lining of the blazers. The whole look has been modernised by the introduction of fitted girls’ jackets, blouses and tailoring. The Squadkit sportswear delivers a bold look using strong and vibrant colours in the latest performance fabrics.

Too often new uniform or sportswear introductions are let down by poor logistics. At Schoolblazer we know that parental satisfaction is key, and pride ourselves on our logistical excellence. We applied our unique buying algorithms to ensure that we delivered 100% availability throughout the launch season and worked with our factories to ensure that all stock was ready for launch. Our online service offers intelligent sizing to ensure fit, free name-tape application and ultra-fast order turn-around. 

The results have been amazing: over 95% of parents expressed themselves as fully satisfied with our service and over 90% of parents were satisfied with the appearance and quality.

More importantly the school is delighted with the new product. Kathryn Bell said: “Schoolblazer have played a vital part in our redesign and development. I’m delighted with the result.” 


[post_title] => A 21st-century uniform [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => a-21st-century-uniform [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-08-27 16:34:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-08-27 15:34:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1834 [post_author] => 52 [post_date] => 2017-01-23 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-22 23:00:00 [post_content] =>

 A student from Lewes Old Grammar School (LOGS) has been awarded a prestigious sports scholarship this month, in recognition of her remarkable javelin success.

Anouska Fairhurst, 12, was granted one of only four scholarships by Squadkit, who manufacture sportswear exclusively for LOGS’s uniform supplier, Schoolblazer.

Despite only taking up the javelin 18 months ago, Anouska is now number one in the UK and fourth in the world for her age group. Last year, she competed in 20 competitions nationwide and boasts an incredible personal best of 37.37 metres.

Judges said they were impressed that Anouska had achieved so much in a short amount of time and praised the strength of her application, which was supported by a letter from Robyn Stone, Head of Gifted and Talented at LOGS.

Robyn said: “When Squadkit asked for applications, Anouska immediately came to mind. She is an exceptional sportswoman who has represented the school in a myriad of sports. We are all so happy for her and I’m sure Olympic medals will follow in her future!”

Chosen by Olympic Hockey players Chloe Rogers and Hollie Webb, as well as former Scottish Rugby player Jason White, Anouska will receive support with kit, funding to enter international events, and mentoring from the former athletes.

Her mother, Elizabeth Fairhurst, said: “The scholarship means that Anouska can afford to travel to competitions around the world, which is crucial for achieving her dream of becoming an Olympic gold medallist. We’re over the moon, and so grateful to Squadkit and LOGS for their support. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Later this term, the young athlete will be awarded with the Scholarship and a trophy during a school assembly.

'Winning this award is just awesome. I can't thank Squadkit enough for giving me this opportunity to really go for it. I will train harder than ever now to do even better this year,” said Anouska. “I would like to thank LOGS so much for their incredible support; they are just amazing and the best school ever'.

[post_title] => LOGS student awarded Squadkit sports scholarship [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => logs-student-awarded-squadkit-sports-scholarship [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-20 16:06:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 0000-00-00 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [14] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2292 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-09-01 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-08-31 22:00:00 [post_content] => Advances in schoolwear and sports clothing are gathering pace all the time. For example, emerging technologies such as breathable fabrics are revolutionizing the on-field experience for young sportsmen and women: meanwhile, schools are increasingly aware that uniform, both on and off the sports field, forms a huge part of the visual message they present to the world. So, what do staff, parents and pupils look for in their uniform and sportswear? Carmella Hunt is Head of Marketing and Communications at Dubai English Speaking School and College (DESSC). “Generally, everyone wants a uniform that is smart and comfortable. Students, especially the older ones, want to look fashionable and, on the whole, suppliers make sure that they remain on trend. Parents, on the other hand, want clothing that looks smart and is practical, offering both durability and value for money.” Last year, a change of supplier gave Carmella and her colleagues at DESSC the opportunity to rethink the school uniform. “We decided to maintain the colours and general style – thus retaining brand recognition – while making improvements to the quality,” she explains. “Having tested fabrics in our climate, [school uniform suppliers] Trutex offered DESSC a polyester/cotton blend that would maintain colour, provide a better fit and crease less – a win-win solution.” DESSC now sources all of its uniform and sportswear from Trutex. “Through their AKOA brand, Trutex can provide sports kit and swimwear, as well as sourcing footwear and accessories such as hats and bags,” Carmella explains. “Dealing with just one supplier provides assured quality, manageable lead times and economies of scale.” 
Image courtesy of Schoolblazer
New look, new tech Trutex has developed a range of clever product enhancements that further improve the durability and function of many of its products. These ‘Stay Smart’ features include extra reinforced seams on shirts and blouses, permanent creases in trousers and a new ‘Smart Pocket’ allowing pupils to keep their money, phone or keys safe. “Practicality and durability will always be key requirements for good school uniform,” explains Trish Lawlor, Trutex’s Sales and Business Development manager for the United Arab Emirates. Trish also believes that the branding potential of school uniform is being harnessed as never before. “Branding for schools is ever more important, and we see this coming through in the coordinated uniform looks that schools are selecting. Uniform is worn not only in school, but by pupils commuting to and from their school day and also recreationally, so the importance of a smart and recognisable look goes much further than the school gates. Our innovations include a contrast-collar blazer, which subtly gives a uniform a design edge and unique look whilst maintaining the traditional framework.”  Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s in the sportswear sector that technology is making the biggest impression. “Technical school sportswear has developed over the last few years to become much more about performance clothing,” Trish explains. “Our exclusive moisture-management fabric, Endura-Dri, helps pupils to stay dry while practising sport: the technology powers perspiration away from the skin through the fabric.” Look smart, think smart, act smart At Yorkshire’s Giggleswick School, uniform is a key part of the school’s ethos. “There’s a picture of James Bond in one of our boys’ boarding houses, with the caption ‘Look smart, think smart, act smart’ – a light-hearted description of our uniform ethos,” explains Headmaster Mark Turnbull. “Our red-and-black striped uniform is deliberately bold. Pupils should be proud to represent the school and to be a ‘Giggleswick Learner’: curious, skilled, aware, passionate, creative, pro-active, resilient and assured. “Branding, of course, has always been important – but, at a challenging time for independent schools, it is more crucial than ever that when one of our pupils wins BBC Young Composer of the Year, or another wins a place representing her county in athletics, it is clear that they are Giggleswick pupils. Every opportunity and achievement demonstrates the benefits an education at Giggleswick can bring.”
Giggleswick headmaster Mark Turnbull (right) with parent Alex Thursby at Speech day 2016, credit B.P.M Harris Photography
Leading UK uniform and sportswear providers Schoolblazer are working with several new partner schools this year – including Glasgow’s St Aloysius’ College, who is looking to modernise its sportswear and to provide a cohesive look across the school. Elsewhere, Burgess Hill School for Girls has recently undergone a re-branding exercise, which saw Schoolblazer working closely with both the school and its design agency Kilvington to redesign uniform and sportswear. “Schools want their uniform and sportswear to reflect the school brand and ethos and to look smart – but, most of all, they want parents and pupils to be happy with the clothing,” explains Clare Burrows, Key Account Manager at Schoolblazer. “Parents want great quality products, great service and good value for money. Pupils want uniform and sportswear that they can wear with pride to represent their school.” Branding beyond the badge “We are seeing a rapid move away from the traditional embroidered blazer to more subtle methods of branding, through a consistent pantone used across the uniform and ‘branding beyond the badge’,” Clare continues. “A number of schools have adopted suits, using a bespoke fabric, while bespoke plaids for skirts or blouses are now almost universal. “Traditionally, the main focus of school identity has been on signage and the prospectus. However, there is a growing recognition that a school's branding needs to work across all media. The single most visible of these is the uniform, and particularly the sportswear, that pupils are seen wearing in schools, at away fixtures and on tour.” Clare’s advice to schools is to select a supplier with the flexibility to project the school’s identity in fabric and colours. “Schoolblazer will colour-match fabrics to the exact pantone required across both uniform and our Squadkit sportswear range, allowing total consistency across the school.” Schoolblazer was the first company to introduce machine-washable wool-mix tailoring into the schoolwear market: its most recent innovation, Performance Cotton, wraps cotton braid around a central strand of polyester to give a shirt and blouse fabric with the comfort and softness of cotton, while retaining the durability and non-crease properties of a traditional 70:30 poly-cotton fabric. Its Squadkit sportswear, meanwhile, uses fabrics sourced from Taiwan’s leading fabric mills, alongside the latest breathable and wicking products. Coming up And what developments in sportswear technology might we see over the next few years? Academics at the University of Salford are helping develop state-of-the-art ‘smart clothing’ enabling athletes to monitor their performance without the need for bulky gadgets.
Smartlife athletes
Researchers from the university’s Sports Science department have been awarded a £165,000 Knowledge Transfer Partnership grant (KTP) from Innovate UK to work with Manchester-based company Smartlife, which specialises in smart garment technology – clothing that can measure signals such as heart rate, movement and muscle activity. The company has created textile sensors and electronics which can be integrated into sports clothing. These discreet and comfortable sensors continuously record data which can be transmitted in real time to a Bluetooth-receiving device such as a smartphone, providing feedback on an athlete’s performance. Researchers Dr Steve Preece and Dr Steve Atkins will now develop the technology further by working to understand how to combine heart rate and acceleration data to build up an accurate picture of how an athlete’s body is using energy. Eventually, the research can be used to improve the accuracy of the data, telling users how much energy they are burning in a training session or throughout the course of a day. The team will also carry out research to develop the capability of measuring electromyography (EMG) signals, which are produced when muscles contract. Measuring EMG signals, especially during walking, running and cycling, can help an athlete or trainer understand muscle coordination and evaluate movement performance. The researchers say that, as well as providing a benefit to elite athletes, the new technology will help people of all abilities to lead healthier lifestyles, by providing them with more information about how to optimise their training regime.

Clare Simpson, spokeswoman for Smartlife, said: “The skills and knowledge transferred into the company as a result of the KTP will significantly expand the capabilities of Smartlife’s technology, helping us to achieve our vision to be the global market leader in body-worn sensor technology across all relevant markets.”

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From the increasing popularity of pop-up shops and online ordering, via the arrival of crest-embossed buttons and on to a school shoe company with a fascinating back story, there are some fascinating trends in the provision of uniforms to children in independent education.

One major development in recent years has been the expansion of multi-channel supply solutions, as deployed by Stevensons. The school uniform provider now sells to parents via a variety of methods: its online shop, retail branches, on-campus school shops, an order hotline, school selling events and pop-up shops, and wholesale direct to schools. Over 20% of Stevensons’ annual sales are now online: at the last count the company had 96,500 online customers and processed over 6,500 online orders monthly, a figure which can triple in August.

Pop-up shops or selling events held at school are growing in popularity as parents seek the convenience of being able to pop to the school to buy all the uniform their child needs – and to try everything on for size. Stevensons runs over 300 selling events at schools around the UK each year, greatly assisting the school by providing the stock, trestle tables, signage, staff and tills and communicating with the parents to tell them when the event is happening.

Profitability in the sector is notoriously difficult, with companies working to low margins and having to keep a large stockholding of uniform year-round, over 80% of which remains unsold until July and August each year. Many smaller uniform shops are closing nationally and there have been some recent mergers and acquisitions: both Barretts in Bournemouth and Schoolwear Oxford have been acquired by Stevensons in the last 18 months.

Elsewhere, there is greater unity than ever at Gloucestershire’s Bredon School where, for the first time, all ages from four upwards wear blazers (juniors formerly wore sweatshirts.) A new headmaster’s fresh approach to the school’s uniform now sees the girls wearing tartan, rather than plain blue skirts – but children remain free to choose their own overalls and wellingtons when working on the school’s farm.

Meanwhile, the much-loved retailer John Lewis brings experience to the uniform-buying experience, according to Katrina Mill, the company’s schoolwear buyer. “We've been selling schoolwear for more than 80 years, so we know the importance of offering schools and parents uniforms in a reliable, helpful and convenient way. Parents know that they can rely on us for good value, excellent quality and easy-maintenance clothing that their children will want to wear, as these are the key principles we consider when designing our John Lewis-branded uniforms. Even our Basics range features Teflon fabric protector, our knitwear and jersey sportswear has a safe treatment preventing bobbling and colour fading, and all our shirts and blouses are non-iron.”

John Lewis also offer easy ordering, and can accommodate all sizes of pupil. “For parents’ convenience, all our school-specific uniform is available to purchase online 365 days a year and parents can also visit our shops where we have samples available to try,” Katrina explains. “Our trained schoolwear partners offer a fitting service and provide advice on fabrics, quantities and fitting for growth. With school-specific schoolwear we also offer a special measure service on bespoke uniforms if the child falls outside the size range we normally sell.”

There is interesting news, meanwhile, from Leicestershire’s Oakham School, which has teamed up with shoe manufacturers Its Got Soul to design supportive school shoes, informed by the University of Northampton’s Division of Podiatry, for teenage girls. Sample shoes, which can be seen at the school’s shop, have been tested to ensure that they meet durability, performance and legislative requirements.

Its Got Soul was established by a mother whose daughter was studying at Oakham. The former pupil (who left in 2012 and is now at university) had numerous back problems through constantly wearing ill-fitting and unsupportive ballet shoes. With the help of the university, the key design points to ensure comfort and support in footwear were identified. As a result, all of the company’s shoes have leather uppers and cushioned leather insoles. Non-slip shoes have a rubber shock-absorbing sole to take pressure off the knees, ballet shoes have a strap holding the foot in place to stop the toes from clawing, while the Eleanor style also has a hidden strap under the suede fringe. Shoes are designed in Northampton, sized on a British last (making them generous in size) and manufactured by a family-owned business in Spain.

Elsewhere Robin Horsell, Schoolblazer co-founder, identifies one of the uniform sector’s hottest trends. “Suddenly the buzz word in independent schooling is branding. Design agencies are being appointed to dispense with the age-old crest complete with fleur-de-lys and heraldic imagery, and replace it with something more modern.

“The reasons are clear: schools are in a market-driven business and want to present their view of the world in a consistent style. At Schoolblazer we've been at the forefront of the branding revolution, working closely with some of the sector’s leading agencies, creating looks and styles that fit as a coherent whole within the design philosophy.”

This process has given rise to some clear guidelines. “Uniform says a lot about the school: a ‘smart, urban, business-focussed school’ may consider a suit, possibly with coloured pin-stripes and a very tailored look. Alternatively, a school may wish to play on a more rural or ‘county’ heritage, even going so far as a tweed jacket. Subtlety is important – branding is as much about detail as it is about logos. Many of our more recent school designs have not used a logo in the garments, preferring more subtle approaches such as a unique suit lining, colours or even a simple crest-embossed button. Sportswear is a crucial part of the ensemble, Robin underlines. “Sports clothes are the garments most often worn outside school – but too often their design decisions are left to Heads of Sport. Sports clothing should be at least as important to a school as its uniform, and should not be dominated by sports companies’ logos.”

Robin identifies some dos and don’ts for a successful uniform redesign. “Run focus groups with the pupils and parents, but ensure they are well-moderated with a strong vision of what is and is not open for discussion. Ensure that the board of governors shares this vision, and sees the uniform decision as integral to the rebranding. Most importantly, remember that the uniform and sportswear supplier will be the first contact that new parents have with the school. Finally, don’t be afraid to change suppliers. We can help to manage the process, and have moved over 100 schools to our system in the past few years.”

“The relationship between school and school uniform provider is not straightforward,” says Martin Heatlie, Managing Director of newly-founded Newplan Solutions. “Ultimately, though, the end customer is a family and a child who is going to school and will be keen to fit in. For most, that will mean looking like everyone else. Identifying the right uniform is key.Long lead times arising from complex, unique and branded uniforms creates problems where there are ‘unexpected sizes’. Measuring pupils in May/June to manufacture uniform in June/July and supply in July/August fails pupils who do not experience ‘average growth’ in the intervening months. And smaller schools with non-stock uniform face higher manufacturers’ minimum orders, meaning that the ‘one-off’ garment for a ‘one-off’ pupil is often not an option.”

Newplan Solutions was created after the John Cheatle group entered administration. “We were able to retain some of the best staff and outlets in the country,” Martin explains. “Retaining these staff means that Newplan benefits from thousands of years of collective industry experience. We know that it is essential for the pupil, their parents and the school to recommend the right uniform – having first considered the school’s size, its aspirations and its pupils’ needs. 2014/15 will be a fantastic opportunity for Newplan Solutions to ensure that the uniforms we provide meet our customers’ every need.”



John Lewis

Its Got Soul


Newplan Solutions

Bredon School

Oakham School


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School uniforms have historically received a raw deal in popular fiction - think Just William’s general scruffiness, Billy Bunter’s blazer’s straining buttons and the indecorousness of the pupils of St Trinian’s; even Harry Potter was told to tuck in his shirt by a talking mirror. Thankfully, more recently – and in the real world – uniforms are increasingly used to not just establish equality but also to prepare pupils for the big world they will all-too-soon enter.

That smartest school uniform element – the blazer – has undergone something of a makeover of late, according to Tim James of Schoolblazer: “For independent schools a major trend has been a move from a traditional blue blazer with a big badge toward demonstrating the school brand via fabric and colours – not crests. King’s Ely School now has a bespoke pinstripe incorporating Cambridge blue in a blazer without a crest.

We have done something very similar for two major schools in Newcastle which are merging and taking a new school colour. What we are seeing in many independent schools is taking uniforms back in the supply chain to the original mills in Yorkshire to weave bespoke fabrics. If you have a strong enough relationship with dye works and weavers you can do almost anything.”

Uniform styles can even reflect rural and urban nuances. “This trend is partly a reaction to state schools,” says Tim James, “where, for example, some academies have quite fancy uniforms with piping on blazers – a style the independent schools previously owned. Now independent schools are looking beyond this to ensure a smart look which is less in-your-face.

“Cheltenham Ladies College is a country school and their sixth form recently chose a tweed jacket with a moleskin collar – something they had in the 1920s and 1930s. In contrast, a school in Newcastle’s city centre needs a uniform to reflect this – a city centre suit in keeping with a business suit look.”

Schoolblazer has its own sportwear brand, Squadkit, operating in a dynamic sector. “There has been a move from kit for each sport to multi-purpose kit built on layering principles – a base layer, playing layer and waterproof top,” explains Tim James. “Whereas before, at some schools, pupils would need different shirts for fives, rugby and hockey, the physical differences between products for tennis and badminton are limited if you have a high performance fabric.”

At Stevensons, business development manager Howard Wilder echoes the change in blazer design, away from a traditional shape with three pockets to a fitted version for both boys and girls. Elsewhere, function dictates fabric and form. “There is now a greater emphasis on washable clothing,” he explains. “Before in the independent school sector there had traditionally been a preference for woollen flannel which was dry-clean only and therefore expensive to maintain. Outside of the independent sector there is also an increasing preference for the use of eco-materials, made from, for example, plastic bottles. We are also seeing girls’ skirts without waistbands so they fit lower on the hips and not around the waist.”

The use of technology has increased as Stevensons’ business has grown; 18% of ordering is now online but customers can still visit the company’s high street stores and attend one of their approximately 300 school selling events annually, something particularly important for new starters.

While the issue of single uniform suppliers in the non-independent school sector has become political of late, they bring undoubted benefits.

“Around 95% of our schools operate on a sole supplier basis,” says Howard Wilder. “If you have a dual supplier, particularly in the case of smaller prep schools, nobody takes responsibility and if one runs out of a particular item they may assume the other will have stock. If you are the sole supplier it is your responsibility and you take the flak if items run out. We take our responsibility very highly.”

James Benning, Stevensons’ sports account manager, recently helped the Beacon School, Chesham, replace its former ‘team’ rugby jersey with an inclusive printed version available to all. He has noted “a move toward more technical fabrics in sportswear, breathable materials helping ensure the child doesn’t overheat. These dry quicker and are beneficial to parents as they wash better and have improved durability.”

Perry Uniform are award-winning designers and manufacturers of school uniforms with expertise in branding. They operate their own design studio and factory in Leeds, developing stylish, practical patterns, sourcing cloth in Yorkshire where the designs can be unique to the school and create garments pupils are proud to wear.

Bradford Grammar School recently commissioned Perry to design a new image for the school which now has its own Yorkshire woven, navy and maroon pinstripe. The school motto “Hoc age” translates from Latin as “Do it” which represents the school ethos: a sense of non-“showy” self-confidence. Headmaster, Kevin Riley, sums up the new uniform: “I have had many comments from our feeder schools, parents, pupils and staff that our new uniform is transformational and enhances the standards for which we are renowned.”

In these recessionary times, parents are looking for schoolwear that lasts, provides good value and incorporates easy-care fabrics. This means striking a delicate balance between using the best and most durable materials, and the market price for them.

John Cheatle is repeatedly coming across this dilemma, reflecting a return to more traditional uniforms and a need for awareness of tight budgets. Commercial director Tim Hallas said: “We want to give schools the best uniforms possible but there are several factors at play. Parents want their children to look presentable but resent paying any more than they have to for uniforms and sportswear. Schools want uniforms to properly reflect their traditions and the quality of teaching they provide – and often there are must-have inclusions on specific uniform items that may date back hundreds of years. Pupils and parents want uniforms that are easy to wear and care for. It is possible to tick all of these boxes but you need to have the widest available ranges to select from in the first place. You also need to review your uniforms and sportswear regularly.”

Due to its significant buying power, John Cheatle is able to source almost any item of schoolwear or sportswear, whether designed or off-the-peg (or a combination), and to obtain value for parents on pricing. While the recession continues, it is clear good value is a key indicator of current schoolwear trends.


Perry Uniform:
John Cheatle:


[post_title] => Threads of Learning [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => threads_of_learning_ [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-01-05 10:45:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 0000-00-00 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 17 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 37901 [post_author] => 56 [post_date] => 2021-11-30 00:00:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-11-30 00:00:41 [post_content] => A new piece of research by the Youth Sport Trust has been published which highlights a significant decline in activity amongst girls in independent schools as they get older. This major research project amongst independent school children has shown that girls play 10% less sport than boys in general and that 77% of girls report one or more barrier to taking part in physical activity compared to only 56% of boys. This drop-off in being active only gets more noticeable as girls grow older:

Girls’ activity levels drop as they get older

The Youth Sport Trust, the UK’s leading charity for improving the education and development of every child through sport and play, in conjunction with the sports brand Limitless (Schoolblazer), surveyed over 1,500 students at 17 independent schools to reveal a cross-section of important data. For girls in particular, the data reveals barriers to participation that include a lack of confidence, specifically body confidence, as well as a perceived lack of competence. Just 41% of girls in independent schools are happy with the way their body looks compared to 63% of boys. Less than half (47%) of girls rate their overall confidence as ‘good’ compared to 71% of boys and 29% of girls listed ‘not being confident’ as a major barrier, compared to only 12% of boys. Clearly, the approach to PE and physical activity for girls needs a different approach. In terms of their preferred activities at school, team sports proved to be the most popular activities but girls also want more variety in general. Listening to young people and involving them in decisions about PE delivery may help to empower them and persuade those more reluctant to participate more. The research also showed an important split by age group in terms of motivations to be active. Younger children are encouraged much more by improving skills and having fun with their friends, where older children become more motivated by winning and are driven by playing and competing in a team. Taking all age groups together however, having fun and being healthy were still the main incentives to being active. The report concluded that empowerment, kit considerations and confidence are key areas for improvement, in order to encourage long-term engagement in an active lifestyle. The results of the study will be shared with the schools which have taken part and the wider sector, to help inform and develop relevant provision for pupils, and to promote a culture that encourages activity across the school. You can see the full report on the YST website. Limitless has already taken many of the findings on board. Limitless sales director Chris Marshall said: “Overall this research is a vital insight into the importance of body confidence in encouraging all pupils to be active. “We are reviewing our product offer in the light of this to ensure that the kit we provide, particularly for girls, builds self-confidence and encourages participation. “Our recent innovations with the Limitless bra and alternatives to traditional skorts shows the direction of travel, but there is more to do.” Amanda Vernalls, head of evaluation and research specialist at the Youth Sport Trust, said: “Without the support of organisations like Limitless, we wouldn’t be able to further understand the attitudes and barriers to physical activity, PE and sport for all young people. “The findings provide an important glimpse into girls’ relationships with physical activity, PE and sport in private schools. We hope this research will support schools to make informed choices and engage all young people by listening to students’ views.”
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