Save on School Uniforms
Looking for ways to save money on new school uniforms for the autumn term? Uniforms don’t come cheap but luckily there are still some ways to bag a bargain.
The school summer holidays are almost here, so it may seem like spoilsport behaviour to start thinking already about the school uniforms the kids will be needing for the new autumn term. No doubt slipping into their new school blazer or brightly coloured sports socks will be the last thing on your children’s minds! But many mums and dads will be hitting the shops during the summer holidays to stock up on new skirts, trousers and shirts for the new school year, especially those whose children are starting secondary school in September.
Buying school uniforms is not for the faint-hearted. The average cost of a secondary school uniform these days is £200, while the average cost of a school regulation sports kit can reach as much as £160. For a family on a low income or with one parent out of work, finding £360 a year for a child’s school uniform can be tough, especially considering children have a habit of outgrowing their clothes. What can make things even more difficult is that many parents find that they are forced by their children’s school to buy the uniform from one tied supplier, making it difficult for them to save money by purchasing uniform items from the supermarket chains. Last year Asda, which sells school uniform items as part of its George range, ran a campaign to try to stop schools from doing so.
It can be frustrating and costly but there are ways around it, if you plan ahead and get organised. Here are some moneysaving tips on uniforms I’ve picked up from the busy mums in my area:
- Many supermarkets and high street chains are now selling school uniforms at competitive prices. If possible, check out your local outlet to see if you can source some of your child’s uniform items there at a lower price. It’s not always possible to source blazers and skirts from supermarkets and chain stores because some schools may have a very distinct patterned uniform you can only get from one shop, but you may still be able to buy suitable shirts and blouses or gym kit items. The ranges often sell out quickly though, so don’t leave it too late.
- That said, some mums tell me that supermarket trousers and skirts can wear out quickly, so, on the flipside, it may be worth investing in better quality items, such as blazers, which get a lot of wear and tear and making do with cheaper shirts, blouses and socks.
- Make friends with families of older children at the school if you can. As well as helping your child integrate well into school life, it may also help you source cheaper school clothing. Children often grow out of blazers, skirts and trousers that are still good as new, so you may be able to purchase used but still wearable items from their parents cut price or even get them for free. It’s also worth keeping an eye on your local branch of Freecycle or Freegle too where occasionally second hand uniforms may be available for free, although there may be a lot of competition for them.
- If your child is going through a growth spurt, consider buying skirts, trousers or blazers that are a size bigger or that come with an elastic waist. Then, if you have basic sewing skills, you can take up the skirts or blazer sleeves and then let them out when your children get bigger.
- Look out for second hand or discounted uniform sales which may be held regularly at your school during the academic year. It may a good place to pick up some bargains.
- If times are especially tough, it may be possible to get financial help from your school or local education authority to help pay for the uniform. To find out more, visit the government's website by clicking here . Although, on the downside, some councils have axed these during the credit crunch.
- The government’s guidance to schools is that uniforms should be widely available and affordable for families. No family should be excluded from sending their child to a school because the uniform cost is too great. Despite this, and a warning letter written to schools by the Office of Fair Trading a few years ago, many schools still have exclusive deals with one supplier for their uniform. According to the OFT, schools who do so could be subject to legal action under the Competition Act of 1998. If you experience problems with your school, remind them of the government’s guidance and, if need be, make a complaint to the OFT.
Are school uniforms too expensive? How do you save money on your child’s uniform? Leave a message and let me know.
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