Designer pencil cases and fancy bags have been banned by a headteacher at a Blyth school in a bid to make life easier for disadvantaged children and their parents.
Children at St Wilfrid’s Primary School will be required to wear standard school backpacks as part of the move, which is aimed at minimising the stigma poorer pupils experience.
Parents will no longer be required to make donations for the pupils’ dress down days as part of the measures, which have been introduced after the institution was ‘poverty-proofed’ by experts.
Charity Children North East carried out an audit in the school, where pupils of all ages were invited to share their experiences.
Some reported it was ‘very obvious’ when some children did not have the same things as other pupils, while those who receive free school meals could be identified by the brown paper bags their lunches were provided in for school trips.
The combined cost for uniforms, meals, school trips, and attending every optional after school event at the institution could be as high as £581 per year for each child, the school calculated.
“As a school we had thought we did OK, it was all very equal and children didn’t feel disadvantaged,” St Wilfrid’s head teacher Pauline Johnstone said.
“It was quite difficult to listen to some of the feedback,” she added.
Some parents expressed anxiety over the decision to ban designer pencil cases, which can cost over £10, but Mrs Johnstone said “the majority could see why we were doing it”.
She also said that the changes will not affect the activities on offer to pupils.