AN MP has hit out at a York school's threat to prevent children attending lessons if they are wearing the wrong trousers or skirts.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said uniform was a major expense for families, and when so many were struggling to make ends meet, everything possible should be done to ensure uniforms were as accessible and affordable as possible.

The MP spoke out after The Press revealed that more than 700 people had signed a petition calling on Millthorpe School to think again about its new uniform policy, which they said insisted on branded trousers or skirts costing more than double the supermarket cost of plain ones.

“I am outraged to hear that this uniform policy risks singling poorer children out and is forcing some parents to go cap in hand to the school or to take on debt ," she said.

"It is extremely difficult to understand what possible justification the school could have for forcing parents to buy expensive branded uniform that costs way in excess of the uniform funding available to poorer families from the council.

“At a time when schools funding is extremely scarce, and York is suffering with the lowest per pupil funding in the country, it is completely reckless for a school to use this precious funding to subsidise the introduction of a self-imposed, divisive and regressive uniform regime.

"It is shameful that this week in our city children have faced the threat of being excluded from lessons because their parents can't afford to comply with the new and expensive uniform regime. Kids do not want to be different or stand out. So the fact that their parents can’t afford their uniform is hard on children who do not want to be different from their peers, and therefore children must not face punishment for it. The school must urgently rethink this policy and offer a uniform that is affordable to all families. I will be meeting with the school next week to discuss.

“It’s time to get smarter about school uniforms and rather than increase costs, ensure recycling centres are available at each school to help save money and reduce our environmental impact.”

The school said it had for many years had vouchers in place to ensure anyone on benefits within the past six years would be supported annually with uniform costs, and it sought to offer support where possible to others who were struggling financially.

It said: "Our move to a new uniform supplier has led to 100% of our students now wearing full correct uniform. In the past, many of our students were persuading parents to buy trousers, skirts and trousers which were not compatible with our uniform policy leading to much time wasted in conversations about uniform at the start of each day and conversations with parents who then had to buy replacements for the inappropriate items. "There is no longer any peer pressure to buy the latest cut of trouser or style of skirt because others in school are doing so. Students are now entering lessons at the beginning of each day with no delay to their learning.

"We will continually check that our uniform supplier is providing the best value possible to parents. Governors will continue to monitor this and it is an item for discussion at their next meeting."