Uniforms under the spotlight

Charlie Else (left) and her mum Karen (right) would like to see the cost of the girls’ uniform looked into at the high school, as they are much more expensive that the boys’ uniform.

A Cambridge High School student has launched an online survey, seeking feedback from the school community into the high school’s uniforms.  Charlie Else, in Year 12 this year, had received 179 responses to her survey between Sunday night and Wednesday morning after putting it on social media.  It’s gone so well that she’s had to upgrade to a paid version of Survey Monkey to collect the results, which she will be taking to the school once it’s finished.  Of concern to Charlie and some other students and parents is the lack of a “try on” day at the school, which has reportedly been leading to frustration at having to send items that don’t fit back to Auckland supplier, Argyle.

Nadine Fabri Liddle and Monique Wiles, who run the Facebook page Cambridge NZ School Uniforms and School supplies, said that feedback they had received from some parents was that they had issues with receiving correctly-sized uniforms despite referring to online size measuring charts. “The lack of try on days provided to prospective enrolments, and no local supplier to refer to have added another layer of frustration to the process of acquiring school uniforms,” they said.

Cambridge High School’s Deputy Principal, John McDonnell, said there have never been “try on” days as such.  After the school’s uniform shop was closed in 2015, a day was run where students could try on uniform and their parents could order them online on computers provided.  “This was out of concern for parents who didn’t necessarily have access to the Internet,” he said.  That was fine at first, however at the end of 2016 it was a different story, Mr McDonnell said.  Five Argyle staff members were inundated with students wanting to try on uniforms but not ordering them at the time.  Some parents and students had to wait for a long time, and reportedly became frustrated.

“After that, Argyle moved away from most schools and they have done an online video that talks about how to measure for this year.”

Mr McDonnell said he is in weekly contact with Argyle, checking in with sales and returns.  There has been a sharp increase in orders, as the school is getting an extra 48 Year 9 students due to growth in the roll, Mr McDonnell said.  Figures from Argyle showed that returns were sitting at 1.5 per cent this year, only slightly up on last year.

Another point of Charlie is raising in her survey the gender inequality of attending Cambridge High School, with girls required to buy both summer shorts and a winter skirt, while boys can wear the same shorts year-round.

Mr McDonnell conceded that there was a significantly greater cost in kitting out girls as opposed to boys, but said that in an extensive survey of parents, students and staff last June an “overwhelming majority” were in favour of keeping the tartan skirts which retail at $99 new.  This result meant, he said, that the majority were comfortable with the extra cost incurred by girls going to the school.

Both Charlie and her mum agree that the school uniforms look tidy, but they would like to see the cost of clothing a female student brought into line with the much lower male price.  It remains to be seen if Charlie’s survey will back this up, and Mr McDonnell said he was looking forward to talking over the results with the enterprising Year 12 student.

Visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/GYV9WGV to take part in Charlie’s survey.

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