THE HIGH COST OF ‘FREE’ ED­U­CA­TION

Qual­ity fo­cus at sup­plier for 15 schools

Wicklow People - - SPECIAL REPORT - BY DEB­O­RAH COLE­MAN

LOVE THEM or loathe them, school uni­forms are a fix­ture at the vast ma­jor­ity of schools in County Wick­low, and in­deed na­tion­wide.

In Ark­low Cool 4 School run by Anthony Byrne and mum Julie New at Kus­tom Kidz caters for 15 ur­ban and ru­ral schools in the south Wick­low area.

‘We have a big range here and we deal di­rectly with the schools to get an idea of what num­bers they have start­ing each year and what sizes they might need,’ ex­plained Julie.

‘We look af­ter pri­mary and sec­ondary schools with the far­thest ones be­ing Cool­boy NS near Ti­na­hely and Bal­ly­canew NS in County Wex­ford. Hav­ing uni­form def­i­nitely makes life eas­ier for the par­ents and there is no dis­crim­i­na­tion be­tween the kids,’ she said.

While many will opt for a cheap op­tion from any of the big su­per­mar­ket chains, Julie said that qual­ity is a pri­or­ity for in­de­pen­dent uni­form sup­pli­ers such as Cool 4 School.

While a full track­suit costs ap­prox­i­mately €35, in­clud­ing school crest, there is no deny­ing the qual­ity.

‘It costs €30 for a jumper with the crest on and we have new cot­ton jumpers which are go­ing down very well with kids, es­pe­cially the younger ones who aren’t used to wear­ing knit­ted jumpers and find them itchy. We also put the crest on and it won’t fall off as many of the iron-on ones do.

‘Our sup­pli­ers in­clude Fruit of the Loom, Re­gatta and Uni­form Ware­house so we know that our uni­forms will last the year. There are cheaper ones avail­able in su­per­mar­kets but what we find is that par­ents end up buy­ing two or three more be­fore the year is out.’

Cus­tomer ser­vice and made to mea­sure skirts and pants are all part of the ser­vice, Julie said.

‘We cater for all body shapes and sizes with dis­cre­tion and if the stan­dard size is not suit­able for a cus­tomer, then we will make a skirt or pants to suit. We of­fer a sav­ings club and also once a par­ent re­serves a uni­form, it goes into stor­age for them un­til they are ready to col­lect it. They can pay in in­stal­ments through­out the year to spread the cost as well. It is very im­por­tant to use to of­fer that level of ser­vice. Peo­ple are spend­ing a lot of money and we re­alise that and we want to make sure they feel looked af­ter.’

Julie New at Kus­tom Kidz in Ark­low.

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