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13 ways to save money on school uniforms

Find out what school uniform deals are available from the likes of Asda, John Lewis and M&S

With average compulsory school uniform costs reaching almost £100 per pupil, it pays to make savings wherever you can – and many 'back to school' offers have already begun.

The Schoolwear Association found the average cost of compulsory secondary school uniform and sportswear items is £93 per pupil when they start secondary school.

This is a significant expense – particularly if you have more than one child – and with household budgets being squeezed due to the cost of living crisis, it might be worth budgeting and purchasing items earlier than usual. 

Here, Which? lists 13 ways to save money on school uniforms, including how much they cost and where you can buy them. 

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Where can you buy school uniforms?

You can buy staple items such as black trousers, skirts, white shirts and polos in all major supermarkets.

However, many schools will require pupils to wear some specific items, such as a blazer or jumper, that feature its logo or emblem. 

Last year, the government made new legally binding guidance requiring schools to make uniforms affordable for all. It comes after the Department for Education's 2015 research found parents could save almost £50 if they were able to buy all school uniform items from any store, compared to having to buy it from a designated shop, or the school itself. 

It means from this autumn, all schools will be required to help keep costs down by taking steps to remove unnecessary branded items and allowing more high-street options.  

How much do school uniforms cost?

There are lots of factors that can drive up the cost of your child’s school uniform, including which items are required, whether they have to be bought from a specific store, and how old your child is.

In the table below, we’ve presented the results of a snapshot pricing analysis, where we've looked at the prices of several staple uniform items for a primary school pupil aged eight to nine. 

We’ve listed retailers alphabetically. In cases where we’ve spotted a multipack, we’ve broken down how much you would pay for one of those items in the pack. 

We’ve not compared the quality of the items. Some products were out of stock online, but may be available in-store.

RetailerPolo shirtTrousersSkirtSweatshirt 
Asda - George clothingPack of two white short-sleeved school polo shirts, £3.50 (£1.75 per item)Pack of two black regular leg school trousers, £9 (£4.50 per item)Pack of two grey permanent pleat school skirts, £9 (£4.50 per item)Pack of two red school sweatshirts, £7 (£3.50 per item)
John Lewis - ANYDAY rangePack of three pure cotton white polo shirts, £9 (£3 per item)Pack of two basic adjustable waist grey trousers, £13 (£6.50 per item)Pack of two adjustable waist grey school skirts, £11 (£5.50 per item)Unisex school black sweatshirt, £8
MatalanPack of two white school polo shirts, £4 (£2 per item)Pack of two black pull on school trousers, £12 (£6 per item)Pack of two black box pleat school skirts, £10 (£5 per item)Pack of two crew neck burgundy school sweatshirts, £8 (£4 per item)
M&SPack of three pure cotton white polo shirts, £10 (£3.33 per item)Pack of two regular leg trousers, £13 (£6.50 per item)Permanent pleats school skirt, £8Regular fit black school sweatshirt, £7
Morrisons - Nutmeg rangePack of three white polo shirts, £4.95 (£1.65 per item)Pack of two black skinny-fit trousers, £9 (£4.50 per item)Pack of two black woven printed skirts, £7 (£3.50 per item)Pack of two red school sweatshirts, £7 (£3.50 per item)
NextPack of two white cotton polo shirts, £8 (£4 per item)Black formal straight trousers, £10Pack of two black pleat skirts, £14 (£7 per item)Crew neck navy school sweatshirt, £9
Sainsbury's - Tu clothingPack of two white polo shirts, £4 (£2 per item)Pack of four black skinny-fit trousers, £18 (£4.50 per item)Pack of two black permanent pleat skirts, £9 (£4.50 per item)Pack of two red crew neck sweatshirts, £6 (£3 per item)

Prices correct as of 4 August 2022

Tesco's F&F range can only be purchased in stores. We've contacted the retailer for a list of prices and will update the story when we receive them. 

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13 ways to save money on school uniform 

1. Buy second-hand 

Check if your school or PTA (Parent Teacher Association) has a second-hand selling group, where you may be able to pick up some pre-loved items. 

For example, Andy Coley told Which? he helped out at a second-hand uniform sale at his stepson's school in Greenwich. Uniform items were 25% cheaper than buying them new, and funds went towards the PTFA (Parent Teachers and Friends Association). 

If this doesn't exist at your child's school, see if you can set one up on social media and invite other parents to join.

Alternatively, you could check out these social media sites and apps to buy uniform and sell any old items: 

  • Facebook Marketplace: You can search for items and pick up for free if the seller's local.
  • Facebook groups: Local community groups can help you connect with families  in your neighbourhood, and search for second-hand uniforms. 
  • Freecycle: This app allows people to gift or lend unwanted items to people living nearby. 
  • Olio: Similar to Freecycle, this app allows people to give away items they don't want to those in the local neighbourhood.
  • Vinted: There are over 500 results for school uniform on the app, and you can filter it to only show the sizes you need. 
  • eBay: You can search for specific items and bid for them, which means you could get a great deal.

Find out more: how to buy second-hand online

2. Don’t be tricked by multipacks 

Most of the school uniform products we spotted were sold in multipacks of two, four and five pieces.

Although this might be good value for basic white polo shirts that kids might wear fresh each day, you may not need so many sets of school trousers or skirts. 

Always work out the price per item to see if you'll save by buying more. For example, at Tu (TuClothing.Sainsburys.co.uk) you can buy a multipack of four black school trousers for nine-year-olds for £18, which is £4.50 per pair. But you'll pay the same price per item if you buy the two-pack, for £9. 

3. Buddy up

If you do spot a great multipack offer, but you don't really need all of the items, you could also buddy up with a fellow parent and split the costs.

Buddying up with families with children of different ages is also a great way to pass around clothes when they're outgrown.

4. Size up

Sometimes it doesn’t harm to buy uniform in the next size up, especially if it’s an expensive item such as a blazer. 

You can also do things like taking up long school trousers and letting the hem down as your child grows. 

If you want to save yourself some effort, Marks & Spencer (MarksAndSpencer.com) sells trousers with a ‘grow-proof hem’, which are made with extra length. When your child is taller, you can let the trousers down by unpicking the hem and pressing with an iron. 

5. Check for grants

You may be able to get a school uniform grant worth £200, depending on your income and where you live. 

The grants are typically available for people receiving benefits such as Universal Credit and child tax credit. You may also be eligible if your child receives free school meals. 

If you live in England, not every council offers this grant – you can check what's on offer by entering your postcode on the government website

School uniform grant schemes differ across the UK – here's how much you could get:

  • Northern Ireland – up to £67.50 per child
  • Scotland – up to £150 per child
  • England – up to £150 per child
  • Wales – up to £200 per child 

Find out more: tax-free childcare and other ways to save 

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6. Double-check the uniform policy

There’s no point buying anything until you’ve checked the school uniform policy in full and know what you'll need to buy. For example, some schools may require students wear a full pleated skirt, or black trousers instead of grey.

If you have to buy branded items and you need help with the costs, speak to the school as some offer vouchers to help out.

7. Search outlet stores

Some major shoe shops have online outlet stores where you can pick up discounted shoes for a fraction of the cost.

We found some girls' school shoes for £32 on Clarks Outlet (ClarksOutlet.co.uk), 30% off the full price of £48. 

Elsewhere, you can get cheaper footwear from Office Offcuts (OffcutsShoes.co.uk), which sells 'end of line, ex-display and last pairs of shoes', and all stock is new. There's also an Ex-Display range at Schuh (Schuh.co.uk), where shoes may have scuffs, discolouration and other 'individual quirks'.

8. Make the uniform last longer

While there's not much you can do about kids outgrowing their uniform, you may be able to make some items last longer before needing to buy new ones. 

For example, you can buy a debobbler or clothes shaver for as little as £5 on Amazon (Amazon.co.uk), which can make worn wool jumpers look new.

A lick of polish on school shoes will protect them and leave them looking smart. Shoe retailer Clarks has put together a free guide on how to clean school shoes to make them last longer, which also includes tips on cleaning Velcro and suede shoes. 

9. Label up

Socks and P.E. shorts are bound to go missing, but you can reduce the risk by labelling everything with your child's name.

According to school labelling company Stamptastic, three quarters of primary school children lose one to two items of uniform per year. 

You can buy label names that you iron or sew on for £7.50. And if you don’t fancy ironing, Stamptastic offers a personalised name stamp and fabric ink pad for £11 that claims to help the average parent label an entire set of school uniform in 15 minutes. It says the ink lasts a minimum of 50 washes.  

10. Search for deals

Lots of retailers offer deals and discounts on uniform at this time of year. Here are some we found: 

Kickers (Kickers.co.uk): Its family deal offers 20% off if you buy two pairs of shoes, or 25% off if you buy three pairs. There's free delivery and a free 60-day return policy. 

Aldi (Aldi.co.uk): You can currently get a pack of two polo shirts, a sweatshirt and a skirt or trousers for £5.

11. Search for discount codes and loyalty apps

Coupert and Pouch are free shopping tools that offer to automatically find every voucher available in one click and apply them to your basket.

You can also get offers by signing up to a loyalty programme.

For example, the H&M club is free to join. It gives all members free delivery and you can build up points for every purchase, which eventually leads to money-off vouchers.

12. Get cashback for your spending

You can earn money back on purchases if you use a cashback credit card. Just remember to pay back your full balance each month to avoid cashback gains being wiped out by interest charges.

Asda recently launched a new reward card where you can earn Asda Pounds on your shopping. 

It's also worth checking your credit or debit card provider's app to see if it offers any cashback deals for retailers you use.

Cashback sites such as Quidco and TopCashback can also be worthwhile. For example, you can get 12% back when shopping with M&S on TopCashback.

13. Keep an eye on the sales

Seasonal sales offer a great chance to save money on more expensive items such as a winter coat. 

It's best to set a budget, make a list of items you need to buy and note their full price – that way, you'll be able to see whether you're really getting a bargain come sales time.

It can also pay to buy out of season. For example, we’ve spotted a few school summer dresses on sale at Tu (TuClothing.Sainsburys.co.uk)– although kids won't get much use out of them now, they'll be perfect for next spring.