Kitting out the kids with new school uniform can be an expensive business.
The costs definitely add up if you need to replace the whole wardrobe for the new term or if you have more than one child.
I’ve been checking over my own children’s school uniform ahead of the start of term. I’ve had to ditch some white polo tops that had gone grey or were covered in marks.
And my youngest will be starting school, so this is the first term where I’ve needed to make sure two kids have everything they need from the uniform checklist.
I’ll be doing a shoe size check closer to the start of the new term, and I’m sure we will need to buy at least one new pair of shoes! Thankfully the shoes my eldest wore when she started school seem to be a good fit for my youngest, and they’re in great condition!
So I’ve done lots of shopping around when it comes to finding the best value school uniform and I want to share the best advice for saving money in the run up to the first day of school!
How much does it cost to buy school uniform?
Kitting out your child with everything they need for school uniform, including school and PE shoes, will cost you between £70 and £150 depending on where you shop.
The price can vary dramatically between shops that sell school uniform. Sometimes schools will specify a particular supplier where uniform must be purchased from, for example with clothing that has a school logo on it. This limits your options and does push up the cost.
Many schools also have a summer version and winter version of their uniform – with lighter dresses for girls and shorts for boys in summer and pinafore dresses and polo tops for girls and trousers and polo tops or shirts for boys in winter. This means you need to purchase more items, which again pushes up your costs.
The good news is that a new law was passed in England in April 2021 that will make the cost of buying school uniform cheaper. The guidance will state that schools must ensure contracts with uniform suppliers are competitive and they should consider high street alternatives instead of branded items.
A survey of more than 1,000 parents by the Department for Education found that on average parents had 13 key items to purchase when shopping for school uniform. The survey reported the typical number of items bought by parents was:
- 2 pairs of shoes (one for PE)
- 1 coat
- 1 blazer
- 2 pairs trousers
- 3 jumpers
- 5 shirts or blouses
- 2 skirts
- 2 dresses
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 9 pairs of socks
- 1 tie
- 1 hat
- 1 bag
Always check your school’s uniform list to make sure you don’t buy anything you won’t need. Chat to fellow parents if you are ever unsure. There are lots of great ways to cut down the final cost of your child’s school uniform to save you cash.
What is the cheapest place to buy school uniform?
Aldi regularly tops the list of the cheapest places to purchase the key staples for your child’s school uniform – costing just £4.50.
This includes a sweatshirt, two packs of polo tops and a pair of trousers or a skirt. That cost does not include socks or tights, school shoes, or PE shoes and kit.
The budget supermarket does not sell uniform in its stores all year round but tends to launch its range in a Back to School event during the summer to give parents the chance to stock up ahead of September.
The Aldi range is for primary school kids, and includes PE kits and shoes.
Remember when budgeting for your child’s uniform that many schools will want you to purchase jumpers and cardigans with the school logo on from a specific supplier.
My girls’ school uses School Trends, which is one of the biggest uniform suppliers in the UK. They charge around £13 for a cardigan and £15.50 for a full PE kit (including a tee with the school logo), and a school bag.
School shoes need to be comfortable as your child will be playing in them all day. Its a good idea to get their feet measured – you can do this at home or in a shop – to make sure the shoes fit well.
The cost of these varies a lot, for example shoes from Clarks cost as much as £40 and shoes from Sainsbury’s cost around £15.
Other things you may need to buy
You may well already have several of these things but when budgeting for kitting your child out for school it’s worth remembering these other items:
- Name labels or a fabric pen – I love the Stikets name labels which are iron-in
- Water bottle
- Lunch box
- Rucksack or book bag
- Hair clips and hair bands
- Trainers for PE – some school request that your child wears black plimsolls which you can buy for around £10 whereas others will let your child wear any trainers
- Winter hat and summer hat – you’re likely to already have these at home, just remember to write your child’s name in them
- Warm waterproof coat
When is the Aldi Back to School event
Aldi’s Back to School event featuring its school uniform bundle for just £4.50 will be back on Sunday July 18 online and in stores from Thursday July 22.
The range includes everything you need for your child’s school uniform, plus things like backpacks, stationery and notepads.
Which is best for school uniform
I’ve looked at the prices for uniform at Aldi, Asda, Next, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M&S to give you an idea of the range of costs between the different brands.
This is for a primary school uniform. Many of these shops will offer two-pack bundles on things like summer dresses and pinafores, which often work out cheaper than buying two separately.
Have a good browse of what’s on offer to see if you can make a saving.
As you can see here Aldi clearly comes out top against the others in terms of cost, however Asda is not far behind them.
Aldi won’t necessarily have everything you need for your child’s uniform checklist, as they don’t do the coloured check or stripe summer dresses or school shorts (they do sell PE shorts). However they do have everything else, including tights and shoes for just £9.99.
In terms of my own personal experience of buying the uniforms I’ve found the M&S items feel the best quality and wash better, however the Tu clothing by Sainsbury’s range is also reliable. I’m not a huge fan of the Tesco skirts, but like their polo tops which wash well.
|Jumper or cardigan||£1||£4 (2 pack)||£7.20||£8||£4 (2 pack)||£6 (2 pack)|
|Polo shirts (pack of 2)||£1.75||£2.50||£5.60||£6||£3.50||£2.50|
|Trousers||£1.75||£6 (2 pack)||£9 (2 pack)||£8||£7||£7 (2 pack)|
|Skirt||£1.75||£3||£8 (2 pack)||£6||£6 (2 pack)||£6 (2 pack)|
|Pinafore||£5.99 (2 pack)||£6||£8||£7||£9 (2 pack)||£10 (2 pack)|
|Shorts||N\A||£6 (2 pack)||£11.50 (2 pack)||£5||£6 (2 pack)|
Tips for saving money on school uniform
Put name labels in everything
Kids tend to peel off things like jumpers and dump them wherever they are playing, then forget to pick them up! Losing uniform is very common in schools!
To save you rifling through the lost property box every few days I recommend you put name labels in absolutely everything, including pairs of tights and mark initials inside socks with a cloth pen too.
If you don’t lose the uniform then you won’t have to buy any new things to replace it!
Take care of the clothes
My daughter has torn several dresses and tops during playtime in the playground. This is to be expected with kids, and thankfully my mum is very good at sewing up the tears!
However you can make school clothes last longer by taking care of them in the wash.
Always follow the washing instructions on the labels and add a little boost to the wash with something like Vanish powder, which helps to keep the whites white.
Make use of second hand sales
Schools regularly hold second hand uniform sales. They will often do this at various points in the year, so check in with the school office to see when the next one might be taking place.
Online uniform swaps with fellow parents is another great way to save money on purchasing new uniform.
Most schools will have a Facebook group for parents. Keep an eye out for people getting rid of uniform their child has grown out of, most will give it away or only be asking for a small amount of money for them.
Keep an eye out for sales
Most clothing shops and supermarkets that sell school uniform will have a sale at various points through the year. This includes M&S, Tesco and Next.
Sainsbury’s has its Tu clothing sales which includes uniform during the summer and this can be a great opportunity to grab essentials at bargain prices.
Try to plan ahead and buy what you need during those sales. Trying to buy last-minute the week before term starts means you may struggle to get the sizes you need, and end up forced to shop are more expensive places.
Remember when your parents used to say “you’ll grow into it”? It’s because eventually you did!
Always try to go a size up in clothes – obviously not to the point where the outfit is hanging off your child – but just so there’s a little room for growth.
By doing this I’ve been able to use the same school cardigans for my eldest for the last two years, and I expect she will get at least another term out of them too.