Parents in the Cynon Valley may feel rightly aggrieved at the hidden - and not so hidden - costs of their children's education at the much proclaimed new school in Aberdare.
RCT's new "super school" in Aberdare brings together Aberdare High, Aberdare Girls and Blaengwawr Comprehensive schools. The project which comes with a hefty price tag of £50 million has already been subject to a string of delays. It was originally supposed to open this coming September but has already been put back until next year which will undoubtedly add to the overall costs of the project to the taxpayer.
The school will be part of a complex which will also include revamped leisure facilities, but it has been condemned by many as being too big and there has so far been it appears a distinct lack of community buy in.
As pointed out by local online news site Aberdare Online parents may also be less than happy with the new uniform policy.
Whilst it is standard practice in most schools to have a school uniform in most deprived areas I particular efforts are made to keep costs down as much as possible. However, the new school will insist upon a number of items bearing the school logo which can only be bought from one supplier and which include a blazer at a cost of £35 and PE socks at the cost of £6 which are compulsory.
There were a number of open evenings held at existing schools to enable to purchase uniform - using "cash only."
Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell is a Governor at Hawthorn High School, he says
"Very few people would disagree with the concept of school uniform; it helps establish a sense of identity and pride, as well as ensuring that there is a degree of equality as pupils do not stand out because of their clothing.
"However, that uniform should be affordable. In England Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws introduced guidelines in September 2013 which urged schools to avoid exclusive single supplier contracts, not make frequent changes to uniform specifications and not insist that pupils wear expensive items of uniform but instead seek to select items that can be purchased cheaply and keep compulsory branded items to a minimum.
"It is a sensible approach which should also be encouraged here in Wales, especially in areas such as RCT where there are pockets of high deprivation."
Karen Roberts sits on the Governing Body of Tonypandy Community College, another RCT school with a high level of deprivation in the community it serves, and added
"We recently announced changes to our school uniform, but this was at the request of the pupils via the school council. Much to our surprise a preference was expressed to switch to the more traditional look of shirt and tie for older pupils rather than the previous polo shirt.
"The governors though have still been very much aware of the cost to parents of purchasing uniforms and have kept branded items to an absolute minimum.
"Whilst some traditionalists may argue that the blazer makes for a smarter look, then practicalities have to be considered alongside making uniform affordable. I wonder if this has been fully thought through at Aberdare."
AberdareOnline would add
A very irate poster on AberdareOnline has posted that school uniforms and the pricing structure at the new Aberdare Community School is the responsibility of the school governors chair of governors is Alun Maddox. the other members are listed below.
AberdareOnline has not received any information from Aberdare Community School to confirm the Governing body members were responsible for setting school uniform prices.
A number of people have expressed their views on AberdareOnline Facebook http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=157189656119
Governing body members
Cllr S Bradwick
Cllr Mrs L De Vet (Vice Chairperson)
Cllr J Elliott
Mr J A Evans
Mr W J Daniel
Mrs C L England
Mrs A Love
Mrs P Morgan
Mrs S Davies
Mrs N Field
Mrs S Howell
Mr G Smith
Mr H Williams
Mrs J Williams
Mr M Jones
Mrs S Murphy
Mrs E Morris
Mrs Sue Davies