STATE schools have been urged to stop copying the expensive school uniform policies of the private sector.

The call comes after recent moves towards the reintroduction of traditional school uniform in some Scottish comprehensives with several adopting formal blazers.

David Farmer, a teacher from Fife, told the AGM of the teachers' union the EIS at Perth, that the move, which was supposed to increase equality between pupils, was having the opposite effect.

He said: "School dress codes are impacting negatively on children and families. The cost of uniform places family budgets under pressure and rather than reduce inequality, which is often claimed as a justification for school dress codes, they actually exacerbate those kind of inequalities.

"Children can easily tell that a black school jumper with a designer label on it carries more social cachet than one from Asda."

Farmer said a survey in Glasgow, which has not yet been published, showed schools were also responsible for enforcing school dress code in a counterproductive way.

He added: "In some schools there is a demerit system for kids who don't wear the school dress code where they are prevented from taking part in trips and activities. That is a negative spiral."

The warning comes after a UK-wide survey earlier this year found families were being left in debt or forced to cut back on basics to meet the cost of school uniforms.

A report by the Children's Society found thousands of pupils were being sent to school wearing ill-fitting clothes because their parents were unable to replace them, while others were sent home for wearing "incorrect" uniforms.

Families spend an average of £316 a year for a child at a state secondary school and £251 for a pupil at a state primary with shoes the most expensive item, the survey found.

The charity said nearly 800,000 pupils go to school with poorly-fitting uniforms, putting them at risk of bullying.