How to Save Money on School Uniform

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primary school children's legs in shoes

With my youngest just starting reception, three kids in school now means three lots of school uniforms to buy, and the expenses have started adding up! I’m lucky in that having 3 girls means a lot can be passed down between them, but things like shoes still always need buying, and obviously with getting a lot of wear, not everything will last through 3 kids!

A report from the Children’s society last year showed that parents spent an average of £315 for primary aged children and £337 for secondary school aged! This is a ridiculously high cost that can be a real struggle for a lot of families, particularly those with more than one child.

Here are some tips to save money on school uniform

1. Check what’s definitely required

Although a lot of schools would like you to buy branded uniform, it’s not always a requirement, so always check the uniform policy to make sure. If you can get way with not buying branded uniform it can be much cheaper to buy standard uniform in the right colours.

2. Shop in supermarkets

I buy all my kids uniform from supermarkets, like Tesco, Aldi, Asda, Sainsurys etc. You can even get school clothes from PepCo in Poundland. It’s a lot cheaper than going through the school uniform online shop, especially for generic things such as polo shirts and pinafore dresses.

You can also get school shoes from supermarkets too, and save a lot compared to specialist shoe shops such as Clarks. I paid £13 for my youngest in Tesco, and £15 per pair for the others in Sainsburys. 

If you do want to buy shoes from specialist shops, it’s worth seeing if there’s an outlet store near you for cheaper prices, or waiting for a sale.

3. Buy multipacks

Multipacks are great! They work out cheaper than buying things individually, plus with school uniform you nearly always need more than one of things. 

The cheaper supermarkets offer much the same pricing on school uniform packs. For example, this year I was able to grab a 3 pack of polo shirts for £3.50 and 2 pairs of football shorts for P.E were £4 for the pack. 

4. Shop the sales and stock up

It’s always worth checking the sales for reduced school uniform when it’s past back to school time. I was able to pick up some lovely school shoes from Marks & Spencer for just £7 and they were still in lovely condition at the end of the year. (I don’t usually shop there as £30 a pair is beyond our budget, but like to check the sale for a bargain!)

Stock up on larger sizes in the sales so that when it comes to next year you already have a bunch of uniform ready that you were able to get cheaper.

5. Check if your school or community has a uniform swap shop/exchange

A lot of schools have a scheme where you can bring in your old uniform that doesn’t fit your kids anymore and families in need of uniform can take what they need. Our school runs this usually just before the end of term.

Our community centre also has a uniform bank, alongside the food bank where you can donate used uniform or go along and pick up some free school uniform.

You can also check local facebook groups to see if any parents are giving away unwanted uniform or looking for swaps.

6. Share between friends

If you have friends with older children, why not see if they’re happy to pass on uniform down as their kids grow out of it? Also consider doing the same with a family with smaller kids than yours. 

7. Buy slightly bigger

Buying slightly bigger to give growing room is a tip a lot of parents give, so clothes can last longer and not need replacing throughout the school year.  You can always take up the hems of trousers and let down again as they grow. However, make sure you don’t get uniform so big it’s uncomfortable or drowns them – a little extra space is good but not too much! It’s also important to buy the right size shoes.

8. Finally, make sure you label!

Kids are constantly losing things, or leaving them behind at school, so making sure you’ve labelled everything means you’ve got much more chance of it finding it’s way back to you so you don’t need to replace it.


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