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Parents of children who attend Leigh Cliffs Primary Academy in Leigh On Sea have said that they intend to protest against a ‘ridiculous decision’ to ban children from wearing uniform purchased from supermarkets and other discounted shops – parents will now face a combined uniform bill of more than £500 per child. According to the management of the school, the new policy that will force parents to use a single supplier has been put in place for ‘ethical reasons’ so that uniform items are not purchased from a company that produces clothing in ‘sweatshop conditions’ overseas.

Headteacher Dr Juliette Cartell explained: ‘From 1st April 2016, all children will only be permitted to wear uniform that has been purchased from our authorised supplier. We want to be seen as a school that is promoting ethical shopping habits, and we have worked tirelessly with our new partner to ensure that all items are manufactured in safe and humane conditions. They have a factory in Rochford where more than 40% of their products are made, and this is a huge statement that we are prepared to support British industry.’

She added in an email: ‘We chose Cartell Carvup Schoolwear Supplies as they assured us that a balance would be struck between ‘ethical’ and ‘affordable.’ We are delighted to say that school-branded jumpers will be available for £49 each, with the accompanying plain grey trousers priced at £30. Every pair of black Leigh Cliffs shoes (£75) comes with black socks at no extra charge, and they will also offer a PE kit bundle for £150 – this includes customised football, hockey and badminton attire that will really make our school stand out from the crowd.’

We visited the school on Friday to meet the deputy head – Madeleine Cartell agreed to discuss the parents’ concerns with our Chief Reporter. After we handed over a number of emails she said: ‘We are aware that the new uniform policy will lead to a small amount of financial strain for some parents, but at the same time we are teaching all children and parents a vital lesson that cheap clothes can sometimes come at a high human cost. The new policy will proceed as planned from April 1st, and we will keep a close eye on pupils to check for unauthorised items – parents will be given 48 hours to purchase replacement items if anyone is found to be wearing uniform that hasn’t been bought from Cartell Carvup.’