SCHOOLS are continuing to flout government guidelines on uniforms, frustrated suppliers have claimed.
Outfits should be widely available to ensure parents are getting the best possible deal, the Department of Education recommends.
Yet too many schools in the borough are restricting the number of outlets allowed to sell their uniforms, argue retailers, who claim they could save hard-pressed families vital pounds.
Moonlite, in Feltham High Street, has been selling uniforms for 15 years.
Owner Rani Kalsi claims several schools have not even responded to her offers to sell their uniform, especially newly-formed academies, which often change their outfit.
“When schools become academies they should support local businesses by giving them the chance to supply their uniforms, but that’s not happening. Schools are here to educate, not sell uniforms,” she said.
A 234-signature petition collected by Mrs Kalsi, calling on schools to open up the supply of uniforms to competition, was presented at a recent borough council meeting.
There are no legal requirements about how schools make their uniforms available, but governing bodies must ensure the cost does not deter poorer families from applying.
Hounslow Council last year cut its school uniform grant from £112 per pupil to £60.
Prashant Kapoor, manager of Bang Bang, which opened a year ago in Bell Road, Hounslow, said he was growing increasingly frustrated by schools ‘ignoring’ government guidelines.
“Schools should let parents decide where they buy the uniform rather than dictating to them. Healthy competition would help reduce prices,” he added.
Mr Kapoor got in hot water with one school for supplying its uniform without permission, but he insists he only did so after the school in question had ignored a number of approaches.
Schooldays, a uniform shop in Whitton, said some schools in the area still acted as sole suppliers to raise funds, which the Department of Education has warned against, while others had been ‘tempted’ by big-name suppliers like Tesco and Marks and Spencer.
Sanco, another uniform shop in Bell Road, Hounslow, said it had not noticed any change in the way schools operate in recent years.
The Office of Fair Trading last year urged schools to review their uniform policies, claiming restrictive practices were costing an estimated £52million a year.
A Hounslow Council spokesman said it would ‘hope’ schools used affordable suppliers to ensure parents weren’t being ‘unfairly penalised’.
? The Chronicle contacted 14 secondary schools in Hounslow.
Of the five to respond, all but two said their uniform, or the vast majority of it, was available from a number of suppliers.
The Heathland School, in Wellington Road South, Hounslow, claimed uniform shops in the borough had sold its outfit previously but would do so at a ‘huge profit’. The school said it sold the uniform for the same price it paid and in some cases even subsidised the cost.
It said it regularly looked into suppliers to see if they could provide clothes of a similar quality cheaper, but this had not been the case.
Rivers Academy, in Feltham, has a single supplier, Len Smith’s, in Twickenham.
A school spokesman said it provided ‘a very good quality uniform at an affordable price’. He claimed it would be difficult to maintain that quality were the uniform available from a number of suppliers.