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St Stephen's

Building Each Other Up in Love and Learning

The new PE Kit - your questions answered

We’ve had some really positive feedback on our new sports kit from the children and the majority of parents. However, we’ve also had a lot of questions.

In order to ensure everyone is clear on the decision making process behind our new kit, we thought it would be helpful to answer some of those questions here…

A great deal of consideration has gone into the selection process. As we communicated last week, it's important that we present a consistent, smart, coordinated impression at sporting events. Our children will be instantly recognisable in matching school colours, maintaining a sense of school community and team spirit.

With over 300 families in the school, it’s important that we look at a number of factors when deciding which kit to go for. These include suitability for purpose, price and availability.

Why change the PE Kit at all?

  • Over the years, we’ve had several reports that some children struggled to get the current hoody over their heads. This is clearly not ideal.
  • Other feedback included that the colours washed out too quickly, the clothes became misshapen and over the course of the school term, they haven’t been durable enough. The yellow kit in particular, shows up marks easily and stains are hard to remove.
  • Under the current kit, children have been coming to school in tracksuits and shorts featuring a plethora of expensive designer brand names. The main purpose of any uniform is to bring everyone to the same platform, fostering a feeling of equality amongst those wearing it.
  • We see all our children – boys or girls – as athletes, equal in ability and potential. As such, we have designed a unisex kit suitable for athletes. We have an ambition for all our children not just to take part in simple physical exercise, but to compete, progress, achieve and excel. We believe that the new kit reflects this ambition.
  • Collectively, these factors have prompted a complete redesign, resulting in a smart, high performance kit.
  • The new kit was sourced and designed in consultation with the Headteacher, the PE coordinator, class teachers and school Governors.

Why polyester?

  • A lot of our parents are gym-goers, so they are probably very aware that most modern quality sportswear contains high levels of polyester. This is because it transports moisture to the outer surface, where it dries off more easily. Cotton tends to absorb sweat and while this is fine in a regular environment - in a sports environment where the children will sweat more – cotton garments can become wet, sticky and uncomfortable.
  • Because of this, we had hoped that the new kit would be better for children with eczema as it will keep sweat away from their skin. However, anyone who thinks their children will have issues with skin conditions as a result of the fabric used, is asked to bring in a letter from their doctor or dermatologist and we will do everything we can to work with you to find a solution/alternative.
  • Because they are polyester, the new kits are better quality and more durable. They wash and dry much better than the previous kit and do not lose their shape, so will last longer. This means they will be in a better condition if handed down or sold at our 2nd hand sales. Any increase in their wear life, further reduces environmental impacts.
  • Polyester is more stain-resistant than cotton.

Have we considered the environmental impact of using polyester?

  • Sadly, whatever we choose as the fabric for our kits, we will have an impact somewhere. There are a multitude of articles on the environmental impact of the textile industry and the jury is still out on which fabric is the most damaging. (Please see articles below)
  • We are aware of the reports that polyester can release microfibres into the water system during washing. But in contrast, it is well documented that cotton is the most pesticide intensive crop in the world, contributing to an inconceivable amount of global pesticide and insecticide use.
  • Cotton garments must be washed more frequently as they are less stain-resistant, often requiring hot water to remove stains. There is sometimes the need to be tumble-dried to dry in a comparable time frame, using more energy to maintain. Polyester can be washed in cold water and dries quickly, using less energy than cotton equivalents.
  • We know that organic cotton can improve the chemical effect, but the organic farming process tends to require more land. It is still also incredibly water intensive, often diverting water away from communities. This makes it harder to source and much more expensive.
  • Polyester is 100% recyclable, unlike a cotton/polyester blend that is much harder to recycle.
  • You will be reassured that the company we use to provide the new kit works with a charity called KitAidSOS. They recycle sports kit for the benefit of young people in the UK and overseas, giving them the chance to participate in sporting activities; promoting social inclusion; and protecting the environment by reducing the volume of sports kit in landfill sites.
  • We can certainly ask our provider to look into more environmentally friendly materials, but these tend to be prohibitively expensive…which bring us to price and availability….

Price & Availability

  • Now children are in PE kit for 2 days per week (rather than just changing for PE) the quality and longevity of the kit has become more important and must be value for money.
  • The new kit is comparable in price with other primary schools in the area with a similar kit, and in most cases is made of the same fabric. You will find that this is the same across secondary schools too.
  • The stipulation for the St. Stephen’s shorts/track pants is to end the practice of children arriving in school with different styles of commercially branded tracksuit. Children are welcome to wear their own unbranded base layer leggings under the shorts and if parents are happy for children to wear this combination in the winter, then there is no need for additional track pants. However, if a parent wants their child to specifically wear track pants, then they must be the St. Stephen’s kit version.
  • Polyester tends to last longer than cotton fabrics – it looks better for longer and withstands the action on the sports field - which reduces the need for such regular replacement. After the initial outlay, this should reduce costs over the school year.
  • 10% of all the kit sold through this manufacturer will be donated back into sports provision for our school.

Sizes

  • The supplier has updated the online shop with ages, chest / waist size for each item.
  • However, because it can still be hard to work out what sizes fit, we’ve asked the supplier to send us a sample size of each item to be held in the school office.
  • Anyone who would like to check their size against their child is welcome to drop by. We’ll let you know just as soon as the samples arrive.

We are always looking at ways to improve our environmental impact – and we will continue to do so – but we still need to ensure that anything we do is both practical and functional and works for the majority.

In future, if we are able to identify and source a viable alternative that is not only cost effective and fit for purpose but also skin friendly and environmentally sound, we will do everything we can to secure it for our children.

 

Sources

https://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/3247/sustainable-fashion-polyester-vs-cotton

https://theecologist.org/2009/feb/06/whats-most-sustainable-fabric

https://www.greenchoices.org/green-living/clothes/environmental-impacts

http://www.uniformreuse.co.uk/fabrics-database.php

https://www.shoutoutuk.org/2018/11/13/the-impact-of-textile-manufacturing-on-the-environment/