However, considering how quickly children grow, not to mention the purchase of PE kits or kids’ tendency to lose jumpers, the cost of providing school uniforms can quickly mount up.
According to research by The Children’s Society, families spend - on average - £337 each year to dress each secondary school child for school, and £315 for each primary school child.
Factor in multiple children within the household and the cost of living crisis, and it’s easy to see why many families are feeling the pinch.
The Education (Guidance About Costs of School Uniform) Bill
The good news is that the Education (Guidance About Costs of School Uniform) Bill, passed in April 2021, is due to come into effect this September. The bill advises schools to reduce the number of expensive branded items required as part of official uniform, allowing parents to seek out cheaper alternatives from supermarkets and high street retailers.
While it is still up to individual schools to set their own uniform policies, the bill is expected to help drive down costs for families, meaning they no longer having to purchase expensive branded times such as blazers from specialist schoolwear suppliers. Instead, they can purchase generic alternatives from supermarkets
How to help save on school uniform costs
If your school doesn’t insist on branded items, you can get T-shirts or polo shirts for cheap from supermarkets.
Skirts, trousers, pinafores, shorts and sports kits are all significantly cheaper from supermarkets’ own-brand clothing ranges.
Uniform bundles can save you a lot of money.
The retailer is doing a full uniform for a fiver offer – this includes:
- Sweatshirt – £1.50
- 2 polo shirts – £1.75
- Girl’s pleated skirt – £1.75
- Boy’s trousers – £1.75
In terms of separates, sweatshirts are £1.50, a two-pack of polo shirts is £1.75 and a pair of trousers or pleated skirt is £1.75. Prices remain the same regardless of sizing, too.
Other supermarket deals
H&M offers some school basics, too, starting at £5.99.
You can get school uniform items (ages 3-13) from £2.50 at Morrisons, both in stores and online. If you’re buying online, standard delivery is £2.97. This includes:
- 2 coloured polo shirts - £2.50
- 5 white polo shirts - £6.50
- 2 sweatshirts - £3.50
- 1 skirt - £5
- 2 trousers - £9
On the slightly ritzier end of the spectrum, Marks and Spencer offer robust quality, long lasting school uniform essentials starting at £7. They offer uniform sets for under £22.
Many schools now run dedicated “swap shops”, allowing you to donate uniforms your children have outgrown, in exchange for second-hand items donated by other parents.
Your child’s school should be able to provide details or keep an eye out on local Facebook pages for event notifications.
Or you could set one up in a parents WhatsApp group - you may find plenty of fellow parents havesomething to donate.
If you have older children, then hand-me-downs are easy, and you can also check out eBay, where it is possible to snap up second hand school uniform pieces for pennies.
How to make school uniforms last longer
Name tags are another tip to save on school uniforms - it will prevent jumpers, coats and blazers from getting lost, meaning you can save them for hand-me-downs or eBay.
Sewn-in name tags last longer than iron-on ones, and are great for ensuring your child can re-find any stray pieces in school lost property.
You child is likely to object, but tell them to get out of their uniform as soon as they get home - it’ll help it wear longer.
The school uniform grant
Parents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also eligible for a £200 grant to help with uniform costs. For more information visit the government website.
In England, not every council offers the school uniform grant.
But you can find out if your local authority does it by using the government’s finder tool,by entering your postcode at Gov.uk, which will direct you to your local borough.
As well as school uniform, you may be able to get help with sports kit, childcare, travel and course materials.
Remember - your child is going to grow, and fast
Buy clothes a few sizes up from your child’s current needs - then you won’t have to replace uniform pieces as quickly if a growth spurt hits. Particularly the investment pieces, such as blazers - buy two sizes up, or it may only last a term.
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