Sunday, 9 May 2010

I’ve just written a letter to the school.  Well both schools really as I’ve addressed it to the Heads of the Infant and Junior Schools.
There used to be a school uniform shop in nearby Shenfield.  It closed down and moved to premises that were even closer in Brentwood. 
The clothes were expensive when compared with High Street prices and the quality was poor too.  But there wasn’t a choice.  If you wanted an item bearing the school crest (demanded by the school uniform policy) then you either bought a poor quality expensive item, or went to Marks and Spencer (Or Sainsbury, Tesco or Asda) bought a cheaper item and paid the school uniform shop to embroider the school crest (at a cost of about £5).
Well now the school uniform shop has closed and relocated to an industrial estate in Basildon with opening hours roughly equivalent to office hours plus four hours on Saturday.
For me this is a minor inconvenience. 
Although I work, I don’t work full time, so I could spend 90 minutes of my free time (and about £4 in fuel) driving to buy some uniform.  Of course if I’m having an item embroidered then I’ll need two 90 minute trips (and about £8 in fuel).  There’s always the scenario that what I’ve bought might not fit which might also necessitate more than one trip, but let’s not over-complicate matters.
Imagine I work full time and imagine I don’t have a car, or perhaps I can’t drive.  That makes things a little trickier because as the shop is located at the end of an industrial estate, it isn’t well served by public transport, and yes, I’ve checked.
It’s also OK for me, because I have a computer, so I can order via the website.  Well yes except that there’s a modest charge for delivery and returns are not free.  This financial implication becomes costly if items don’t fit and need returning and re-ordering.  And the website doesn’t cater for the embroidering of items.  I could, at this point, start to regale you with tales of the poor usability of the uniform website, but you’d accuse me of being picky (which I am.)
Imagine I don’t know how to use the web, or don’t have access to the internet, or don’t have the means to buy online with a credit or debit card.
The school hasn’t sat idly by whilst this has happened. 
They have second hand uniform sales (during working hours.)
They have arranged a visit, during the school day on July 6th, enabling parents to buy direct from the school uniform supplier.  This of course doesn’t help with embroidering items, nor does it help if purchased items don’t fit as items will be purchased while the children are in lessons.
So I’ve written a letter, because it’s just one of those things for which the school will assume parents are coping and that there isn’t an issue unless someone raises their hand.
Please Miss.  Please Sir.  It’s not working.

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