How The Heys is providing free uniforms to new starters and free breakfast to all

School is supporting families facing the rising cost of living by offering free school uniforms for all year seven pupils.

We provide the complete school uniform for all new starters, regardless of their families’ income.

Headteacher Rachel Evans said the measure recognised the difficult environment affecting many people and was just one of the initiatives we are doing to help.

She said: “We’ve been providing free uniforms for all year seven pupils every September since 2019 so that every child gets a blazer, school jumper, tie and PE kit.

“We’ve always understood that it’s challenging for anyone to have to buy a full high school uniform every year – and now more so than ever. This is something we can do to support our families. We’ve also reduced the number of logoed items in our uniform to positively impact on finances, so that many items can be bought from most shops.”

The reduction in logoed items has lowered the cost of a full Heys School uniform to about £86 for those in years eight to 11.

A survey carried out by the Schoolwear Association this year found that the average cost of compulsory secondary school uniform and sportswear items was just over £100.

A total 120 new year seven pupils started in September, having collected new uniforms from the school in August.

As well as offering free uniforms, the school cafeteria, The Hive, provides complimentary breakfast to all pupils every day. Children can arrive from 8.30am to choose from a selection of toast, cereal, porridge, bagels and fresh fruit, with juice or water.

Miss Evans said: “Our school motto is ‘realising greatness’ and, to help our pupils achieve their version of greatness, there are measures we can take as a school that can make a big impact. Offering a free, filling and nutritional breakfast – and the space to enjoy it – to those who would like it, ensures every child can start the day ready to learn and to fulfil their potential.”

Parent Kelli Farrar, of Prestwich, has daughters Phoebe in year seven, Madison in year eight and Niamh in year 11 and said the free uniform initiative made a huge impact on her family.

Kelli, who attended school when it was Prestwich Arts College, said: “When your children want shoes and bags the same as their friends, having the school uniform and PE kit paid for makes a massive difference, because it can cost a fortune when you have three children.

“My children use the free breakfast club and I think it’s great for them to be able to sit with their friends for breakfast and get their chatter out of the way before registration. The school is second to none and so supportive.”

Parent Renata Luszcz, of Whitefield, has a son, Filip, in year eight and daughter Tosia in year seven and said she had even been able to pay forward the good deed.

She said: “I saw a message on a Facebook group from a mum who was asking for help with purchasing a uniform for her daughter. I was able to give her a small donation because my children had received a free uniform, so this makes a massive impact on the Prestwich community.

“I think every single school should try to do this, even if it’s just providing the blazers, because the costs can mount up when you have a few children. My children both use the free breakfast club and that’s a really big help, especially for those who use public transport and arrive early, because it means they start the day healthy.”

Joanne Bevan, from Radcliffe, was able to get a free uniform last year for son Jack Clark, who is now in year eight. Joanne, whose eldest son went to a different school, said: “Having Jack’s uniform and PE kit paid for meant that I had one less thing to think about and it was a big help. Jack goes early some days and has a croissant and fruit for breakfast and that takes a bit of pressure off in a morning. The school has been a godsend – so supportive and thoughtful.”

Sue Gray, of Crumpsall, has a son in year eight and said that although she didn’t base her high school decision on the free uniform, it has been a huge help.

She said: “I’m a single parent and it can be a struggle, so this is massive and really important for someone like me. My son also enjoys the inclusion zone they’ve created in school and I really support everything they’re trying to do. He’s grown in confidence and the staff are all lovely – I can’t praise them enough.”

The Heys also offers a small-scale food bank, with families in need able to confidentially receive donations. Year 11 pupils attending their prom at the end of the previous academic year were also able to choose free outfits and beauty products from a pop-up shop in school stocked with donations.

Investment has also been made to create an inclusion space in the hub of the school, with sensory areas to promote wellness and quiet spaces for lunch and break times.