Nearly 50,000 children across west London are being sent to school unsuitably dressed due to "rip-off" uniform prices, a new report claims.
The Children's Society claims families spend an average of £251 a year kitting out each child for state primary schools and £316 for secondary schools.
It blames the huge outlay on "unfair" school uniform policies, which it says force parents to buy the items from specialist shops rather than picking them up for much less at supermarkets and sewing on a badge.
The charity claims parents are so stretched that across London last year 211,184 pupils were sent to school in incorrect, unclean or ill-fitting uniforms.
In Ealing alone, parents shelled out an estimated £20m last year and 8,894 pupils across the borough turned up without a proper uniform.
The results were based on a survey of just over 1,000 parents, 95% of whom described school uniform prices as "unreasonable".
The Children's Society report The Wrong Blazer, published this week, calls for government action to make uniforms more affordable, including a possible cap on prices.
Sherry Peck, the charity's London area director, said: "We know that children whose parents cannot afford the cost of specialist uniforms face punishment and bullying for not having exactly the right clothes or kit.
"It's time for the Government to introduce legally binding rules to stop schools from making parents pay over the odds for items available only at specialist shops."
Getwestlondon has contacted the Department for Education for a comment.
HOW MUCH DO SCHOOL UNIFORMS COST WHERE YOU LIVE?
|Borough||Number of children wearing unsuitable uniforms||Total spend on school uniform|
|Hammersmith & Fulham||3,301||£7,328,835|
|Kensington & Chelsea||2,086||£4,684,585|
* all figures from The Children's Society report The Wrong Trousers