In April 2021, the government passed a law requiring schools to keep uniform costs down which comes into effect in the autumn 2022 term. The cost of new items can be a big expense, and with children growing out of clothes quickly, there’s a lot of good-quality used uniform out there. A key role for PTAs is communicating the availability of second-hand, aka pre-loved, uniform and the important sustainability message that goes hand in hand with reusing clothes.
Gather your stock
If you collect uniform, provide parents with an easy way to drop off donated items, ideally with a permanent, clearly marked bin or container near the school entrance.
Location, location, location
Although most PTAs still sell uniform at playground sales, many found new ways to get stock to parents during the lockdowns and have retained these methods – for example, setting up a rail of clothes somewhere accessible. Hold a pop-up sale just before the end of the school day or set up a stall at big events such as fairs. Wash and repair items, label clearly with size and price and hang or fold neatly.
Give your uniforms a home
If your school has room, ask if it’s possible to put pre-loved uniform in a permanent location. There may be a space you can clear out and use to create a permanent shop. Or ask if any parents have an extra room, dry garage space or a usable shed.
Plan your prices
Price uniform according to condition and stock levels to avoid having to store too much. If your school community faces financial hardship, an honesty box allows parents to take clothes for free, make a donation or give extra if they can.
If your PTA is struggling to find volunteers for in-person sales, consider taking the operation online. One option is to create a dedicated Facebook group, where parents can upload images of their available items. Set up a PayPal account for donations – either priced or as a virtual honesty box. Or use a one-stop shop such as uniformd.co.uk, uniformerly.co.uk or oldschooluniform.co.uk
Beat the cold
Before winter hits, incorporate coat exchanges or sales into your wider uniform operations. PTAs may traditionally request only uniform or logo items, but asking for donations of warm coats could help raise extra funds or keep the cold at bay for children of the worst-off families.
‘In the first week alone, we sold over 200 items’
Our PTA has collected and sold pre-loved uniform for around five years at pop-up events and online during the pandemic. I approached the headmaster with an idea for a permanent space to collect, store and sell the uniform, and the old PTA storeroom was the perfect place to transform.
After drafting plans, I set about applying for grants. We were very grateful to Bury Council Climate Action Community Fund, who awarded the PTA just under £5,000 for the refurbishment and a new storage container, while builders and decorators from the school community offered their time for free.
The shop is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3-3.45pm and is staffed by PTA committee members and parent volunteers. In the first week alone we sold over 200 items.
Buying second-hand can help parents save money, and all of the sale price goes straight into PTA funds to help pay for equipment and experiences for our school children. There are huge benefits to selling pre-loved uniform. We hope our success can inspire others to do the same.
- Katie Marsden, chair, Greenmount Primary School PTA, Bury, Manchester (250 pupils)
Find out more about Project UniCycle – take a look at their Facebook page