Back to School Essentials

Back to School Essentials

Having school-aged children can be expensive! Our eldest two children are both at primary school and it always amazes me how much it costs to kit them out ready for the new school year. My eldest son is about to go into year 6, I know that when he starts high school next year the costs will be much more. In actual fact, I scared myself last week looking up the uniform he’ll need for the high school we’re hoping he goes to. It’s pretty endless and very scary!

What do you actually need?

Every school is different, but the basic necessary items will be the same.


You’re going to need to buy shoes! I’ll admit that I usually buy school shoes from Clarks. I know they’re more expensive but they do last. Both children got a full school year out of their shoes last year. At around £35 per pair, they wore them every school day from September to July, that works out at £3.18 per child per month of wear. I don’t think that’s bad value really. I have bought cheaper school shoes before now but it’s always worked out as a bit of a false economy. They’ve either rubbed their feet or fallen to pieces really quickly and I’ve ended up going out and buying from Clarks anyway! When I can, I do go to a Clarks outlet for shoes so that definitely saves a few quid.


All schools have different stipulations about their uniform. For our school, they have to have a jumper or cardigan with the logo on, that’s the most expensive item and in our case you can only buy it from the school itself. We’re lucky enough to have a fantastic parents group on Facebook though and there are often parents giving away school jumpers and cardigans that their own children have outgrown. I usually buy two jumpers for Big Man and two cardigans for Little Miss. They’ll both get a couple of days wear out of them before they need a wash (usually). I’ve been really lucky that this year neither of them need bigger sizes and their current ones are still in great condition, no need to buy new for September.

Then there’s the white polo shirt. These are really easy to pick up in the supermarket and are really reasonably priced! I picked up some two-packs in Morrisons last week for £3. Supermarkets usually stock the colours of the schools in their area too so if you need yellow then you should find yellow in your local supermarket.

School skirts & trousers can be picked up fairly cheaply too. In fact, if you can get away without buying the jumper with a logo, you can pick up a WHOLE SCHOOL UNIFORM FOR £3.75! Aldi are selling trousers/skirt, a two-pack of polo shirts and a jumper for a total price of £3.75. I’ve had polo shirts from Aldi before and the quality has always been OK.

Some cashback sites do great deals on school uniform too. TopCashBack currently have an offer on for ASDA George school uniform. Spend £15 on uniform and get £15 cashback (new TopCashBack customers only). That means FREE UNIFORM! Find out how to claim this here.

Don’t forget the socks/tights too.

Lunch Box

If your child is in reception up to year 2, they’ll qualify for a free school meal. This is definitely worth taking up IF your child will actually eat the meal. Mine didn’t so I ended up sending packed lunches. You’ll need a packed lunch bag, I’ve found these on Amazon:


PE Kit

At primary school, this usually consists of shorts, t-shirt and a pair of pumps. We always have trouble buying pumps that fit properly. My children have wide feet and the classic elasticated ones just don’t work. Definitely try pumps on before you buy! We find the velcro ones fit much better but even then it depends massively upon the actual style. You can usually pick pumps up for around £2.50 per pair. You’ll also need some kind of PE bag, usually a drawstring bag that children will leave hung on their peg at school.


Most primary schools will not require that children take any stationery into school with them, all of the basic essentials are provided. However, in some schools, children may be allowed to take in their own colouring pencils etc if they wish to. If it’s not essential, and you’re on a budget, then give this one a miss.

Nasty Nits

It’s worth being prepared for the dreaded nits infestation. Hopefully, your child will be one of those that breezes through school without ever having one of the horrible little critters crawling across their forehead. However, the last thing you want, is to find a louse in your child’s hair as you’re reading them their bedtime story and not have any way to treat the blasted things. I’d recommend getting a treatment in, buying a nit comb and just storing them in the medicine cupboard just in case.

And that’s pretty much it! You may need to buy a book bag or a backpack. Some schools don’t allow backpacks though (our last school didn’t) so it’s worth double checking before you buy.

Back to school essentials

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1 Comment

  1. jo liddement
    August 23, 2017 / 8:04 am

    Some great advise. My husband is a teacher at our local Primary school and as far as school uniform goes every school has good quality used uniforms which can be bourght for a small donation.Most of the clothes are hardly worn too and as they all look the same who would know if it’s second hand!

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