With the new school year just around the corner, parents across the UK are beginning the annual task of ensuring their little ones are fully equipped.
But with the nation still in the throes of a cost-of-living crisis, the prospect of forking out hundreds of pounds for school uniforms and new equipment is likely to be giving many parents sleepless nights.
And that figure is no exaggeration; according to the Schoolwear Association, the average cost of compulsory secondary school uniform in England in 2023 is £96.24 per pupil.
While new laws around schools helping parents clothe their kids for less should help cut some of the cost, there are other ways to keep the expense of buying uniforms manageable. These include:
Shopping at supermarkets.
Most supermarkets have good-sized clothing sections these days and many of them do an excellent line in school uniforms. So long as your child’s school allows generic clothing, plain coloured items with no badges or branding can be picked up at massively reduced prices.
If your child does require clothing with a logo, it may be possible to buy a generic item of clothing and iron or sew a badge on yourself.
Hit the sales.
Retailers like Sainsburys and Marks & Spencer offer clothing discounts across their entire ranges a few times a year. Check out what offers are currently available online and, if you get your timing right, you could get as much as 25% off the cost of a school uniform.
Buy second-hand uniforms from your child’s school.
If you’re lucky, your child’s school will host second-hand uniform sales a few times a year, enabling you to pick up everything they’ll need for the next 12 months at a fraction of the first-hand price.
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. Use the Government’s postcode checker tool to see if your local council can help, or contact your children’s school directly.
Look for a bargain online.
eBay and Facebook Marketplace often throw up offers that look too good to be true, so remember to check their websites regularly. And don’t dawdle if you do see something useful – good deals usually get snapped up in no time at all.
When it comes to equipment, your little one’s needs will vary depending on whether they attend primary or secondary school but the items of equipment most commonly required are:
Although plenty of schoolwork is done on computers and laptops these days, schoolchildren are still expected to carry an extensive list of stationery items with them. The essentials include:
The good news is that stationery is both relatively inexpensive and long-lasting. Retailers like WHSmiths and Rymans usually have sales or multi-buy offers on back-to-school essentials during August and early September so keep an eye on their websites and take advantage of any bargains to keep your costs down.
It’s also worth asking family and friends with kids who have left school if they have any kit left over that you could buy used or just take off their hands. Similarly, charity shops often have plenty of equipment to choose from, as do pound shops and online marketplaces.
The cheapest way to pick up specialist maths equipment is to buy it as a set, while basic calculators can be picked up from most supermarkets from as little as £10.
Electronics and accessories.
If you need to buy your child a laptop, you’ll want to get one that’s light enough for them to carry around, small enough to be easily transportable and that holds enough charge to get them through a school day.
If the cost of buying a new laptop 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.
Other items you might need to pick up include backpacks, lunchboxes and water bottles.
Sports Direct currently has a sale on backpacks, with sports-mad children sure to find something suitable at a reasonable price, while Amazon has an enormous selection with something to suit every budget. Amazon also offers the widest range and excellent value for money on lunchboxes and water bottles.
Back to school September 2023.
If you’re a parent, the fact that the new school year also means a new set of costs is something you’re probably all too familiar with.
If you’re concerned about how you’ll pay for new uniforms and equipment this year, our Family Loans allow you to borrow as much as £1,000 to help cover the cost. For more information, click here.