Back to School: Advice for Parents

By Leeds Credit Union

With only a few days of the summer holidays left, it's time for parents to ensure their children have everything they need for the upcoming school year.

Unfortunately, the cost of back-to-school essentials in the UK continues to rise year-on-year, with the average spend on clothing alone now standing at approximately £315 per primary school pupil and a staggering £337 per secondary school child. And that's before you add in the cost of additional equipment like stationery and electronic devices.

However, many families are still struggling to deal with the financial pressure brought on by the Covid-19 outbreak. So how can you reduce the cost of sending your child back to school?

Cutting the cost of school uniforms

With so many items of clothing required, it's no surprise that school uniforms account for the largest back-to-school expenditure, especially if they need to have the school's logo on them and can only be purchased from a designated supplier. Typically, pupils need:

  • shoes
  • a coat
  • a blazer
  • trousers
  • jumpers 
  • shirts/blouses
  • skirts
  • a bag
  • a dress
  • shorts
  • socks
  • a tie
  • a hat

Pupils will also require a PE kit, which usually consists of a t-shirt (or long sleeved t-shirt), shorts, tracksuit bottoms and trainers.

Furthermore, parents in the UK have a habit of buying all new school equipment, making the cost of their purchases as expensive as possible. However, there are several other ways to procure new school uniforms without breaking the bank. Such as...

#1 Recycling

Organisations like Uniform Exchange help families struggling with the cost of school uniforms by offering second hand clothing for free and encouraging people to donate items their kids have grown out of so they can be reused.

#2 School or council support

Although funding cuts have made it harder for councils and state run schools to provide grants for school uniforms, some councils and schools do still offer financial support. Check out this Government page to see if your local council can help or contact your children's school(s) directly.

#3 Check out the supermarkets

If your children go to schools that don't dictate where their uniforms have to be bought from, consider buying them from a supermarket. A BBC investigation compared the cost of clothing on the websites of four large UK supermarkets and found the average prices were approximately £58 less for a primary school uniform and £118 for a secondary school uniform.

#4 Look online

Facebook Marketplace, local Facebook groups, eBay and other online outlets can be invaluable resources in the run-up to the return to school. Sellers offering bundles can be particularly good value for money and are well worth keeping an eye out for.

Cutting the cost of electronic devices

In addition to the cost of school uniforms, computing equipment is also driving up the cost of sending kids back to school; parents in the UK spent an estimated £130 million on such products in 2018, compared with £80 million the previous year.

That figure is likely to rise again, with the Covid-19 outbreak leading many schools to request students have laptops to ensure remote learning can easily take place if another lockdown is announced.

But if the cost of buying a new laptop, or several new laptops, is prohibitive, don't worry - refurbished laptops are easily available in shops and online and offer an affordable way to purchase a high specification laptop at a reduced price. Check out Refurbished Laptops for high quality devices that have been tested to guarantee they're as good as new and wiped clean of previous data.

Cutting the cost of stationery

Despite the prevalence of laptops among today's schoolchildren, they still need to have stationery - and lots of it. Pencil cases, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, notepads, folders, lunchboxes, not to mention maths equipment like compasses and protractors… we could go on!

The good news is that stationery is both relatively inexpensive and long-lasting. Retailers like WHSmiths and Rymans usually have sales on back-to-school essentials during August so remember to regularly check their websites and take advantage of their offers to keep your costs down.

We can help you reduce back-to-school costs

With a Leeds Credit Union loan, you could borrow from £250 to £2,000 to help you take the stress out of sending the kids back to school. Find out more here.