Back to school costs more than £300

Can’t wait for the children to go back to school? But, have you got all their school uniform yet? Were you organised or have you left it to the last minute? Either way, the recommended list seems endless – new shoes, trainers, sports kit, and stationery. The cost varies from school to school and a move up to secondary school does seem to boost the expense!

A recent study by American Express shows that heading back to school will cost the average family with 2 children £332 just to get the prescribed items from their uniform lists. If you are adding laptops, phones, tablets or other gadgets to the list, you can expect to pay a lot more. This can put considerable financial pressure on a family. A recent government study indicated that 18% of parents/carers had suffered financial hardship as a result of purchasing their child’s school uniform. (Department for Education: Cost of School Uniform, June 2015).

So what can you do to keep the costs down?
Supermarkets – many parents turn to supermarkets to purchase basic uniform items such as shirts, skirts, trousers and jumpers. There has been heavy discounting by some stores so it is worth investigating. However, you should also keep an eye on the quality – you don’t want to pay for more items at Christmas because they have worn out.

Second-hand stalls at school – these are a great alternative to pick up items that you think your child will grow out of quickly, or that are more costly – e.g. school blazers.

Local groups on social media – you will often find parents selling off school uniform on local Facebook sites. A bit like the second-hand stalls in school, this is a great way to pick up a cheaper item.

Other buying/selling forums such as the one found on schoolreviewer.co.uk. This has a buy/sell section specific to individual schools where parents sell outgrown uniforms, no longer needed books and sporting items.

In Scotland, an initiative called the Back to School Bank has been set up for children in financial need to get new school uniform.

Don’t do it all at once – a new coat, for example, can wait for colder weather. Sports kit or a musical instrument could wait for a family member to buy at Christmas, when you are certain that your child is serious about continuing that activity.

If you can, budget in advance so that the cost doesn’t hit you all at once.

Lastly, make sure that any big ticket items are insured. Speak to your local A-Plan branch to see what is already covered and whether you need any additional protection.