It’s reached that time of year again, when we drag our kids around shops, desperately trying to find school uniforms which fit, are hard wearing and don’t cost the earth. Whilst there’s much more choice these days, with supermarkets offering deals on school uniforms, it’s still an expensive time of year.
If you’re struggling to find items at a suitable price, we have some tips on savvy school uniform shopping and money saving ideas.
Currently there is no legislation on school uniforms; it is up to schools to decide school uniform policy. However, government guidelines on uniform costs states that: ‘No school uniform should be so expensive as to leave pupils or their families feeling unable to apply to, or attend, a school of their choice, due to the cost of the uniform.’
What’s more, schools must give parents adequate time to find and buy uniforms, schools cannot expect parents to find uniforms overnight, especially if the uniform design and style is changed. Uniform policy should not discriminate against pupils on the grounds of race, sex and gender.
Money Saving Tips
Whilst we wish our kids would stop growing so their uniforms last longer, we’ve put together some more practical tips on how to save money at this difficult time of year.
Talk To The School
If you’re struggling to afford your child’s school uniform, speak to a teacher or the head teacher at your child’s school. They may know where you can get discounts or find cheaper items. At the very least they will understand your situation better.
Do An Inventory
Make a list of items your child can still wear and what needs replacing. They may have more wearable uniform pieces than you realise. Make a note of clothing that they’ll soon grow out of too, looking out for deals and special offers on all those items.
Make A List
Make a list of what you need and stick to it; don’t buy things which are nice to haves or extras. If things are on offer, make sure they’re items you really need.
As with anything to do with saving money, planning and research are key. Shop around for items both online and in store to ensure you’re getting the best deals for the right items.
Charity shops can have great bargains, so don’t be afraid to have a rummage and look for things such as shirts, jumpers, skirts and trousers at bargain prices.
Shop A Season Ahead
Try looking for items such as winter coats when they’re out of season. These items are more likely to be in the sales and therefore you can make savings, buying quality pieces for less.
Old Uniform Donations
Does your school have an old uniforms donation policy? If you’re struggling to afford items, see if you can buy them second hand. Could you organise a swap shop at your school? This is where you take items of your school uniform which your child has grown out of to swap them for larger items other people no longer need. Everyone gets a uniform which fits and it costs a lot less than buying new pieces.
Instead of buying a school branded jumper, can you sew the school badge on to a generic jumper? This way you can buy cheaper items but still comply with the uniform regulations of the school.
Older Siblings/Hand Me Downs
Can older siblings/ friends offer old items which no longer fit?
Invest In Key Pieces/ Compromise On Others
Know which uniform pieces are worth investing in and which you can compromise on or buy cheaper versions of.
There’s nothing more frustrating than items being left behind at school and/or going missing. Make sure you nametag everything your child owns so that if items are left behind, they are soon traced back to them and you don’t have to shell out for another item.
If you’re still struggling, there is help available. You can get help with school uniforms costs here.
More information on school clothing rights:
StepChange offer practical advice which is tailored to your needs, helping you to repay your debts.
The Money Advice Service can give you free, independent advice on debt management.
Alternatively, you could contact the National Debtline who offer free, independent and confidential advice.
Finally, the Citizens Advice Bureau give free, independent advice on managing your debts.
If you want hints and tips on making school uniforms last longer, read this blog post