Schools out – save pounds on school uniform
All UK kids have now broken up for the summer. Whether your child is heading back to the same school in September or joining a new school, uniform costs.
I remember buying my first set of uniform for my reception aged son – £140. The cost mounts up when you can’t buy the uniform from the supermarkets or high street stores and have to go to the uniform specialist stores.
With a secondary uniform coming in at over £200 for me and some of my friends at over £400, I was determined to try and cut the cost as much as possible, so here are my tips:
- Uniform sales – at our state school in May they have used uniform sales and some schools will have uniform shop on site. Find out about the sales by asking at the office or reading the school newsletters. Most newsletters are free to access online. Much of the uniform is in good condition, as some of the money will go to the school fund, so it’s not in their interest to sell stuff that’s in bad condition. I got a school jumper and PE kit for £17 at a uniform sale…a saving of £83.
- Online shopping is your friend – when a school insists on a specific skirt or pair of trousers, find out from existing parents which brands they are or even ask the uniform shop. David Luke and Trutex are very popular brands and often sold exclusively in uniform shops. However, if you look online, you can find prices that are cheaper than in uniform shops for exactly the same brands. David Luke even has a clearance shop on eBay. I love eBay by the way. I only go for BNWT (brand new with tags) for the kids, but sometimes people have uniform that they forgot which is in mint condition, so it’s worth checking out the site.
- Ask for a discount – another trick is to find official online uniform sellers and ask what offers they have on. I like www.schoolwearsolutions.com – they do a buy one, get one half price. Also, look out for 20% or 2 for 3 deals. Check out my receipt – today I got two pairs of adjustable waist grey school trousers, with a 20% discount and BHS loyalty card discount for £6.84.
- Do the leavers have any uniform spare? I remember when my eldest left junior school, the younger one suddenly had loads of extra trousers, jumpers etc. If you know some of the older children and they have uniform in good condition, maybe they can avoid putting it in the charity bag and give it to you. Make it known that you are open to receiving uniform.
- Shoe shopping – shoes can be the most expensive part of the shop. We have to have school shoes, trainers and football shoes. Clarks have outlet stores scattered around the country. Contact them and ask where they are. I like the one in Bicester. Clarks also have regular sales, so ask the store or email head office for dates of sales starting. They may not include school shoes, but trainers are usually in the mix. You can always get fitted at Clarks and then buy the shoes elsewhere. Remember to watch the fitters as they press and poke your child’s foot and learn how to identify growing room. Another tip is to visit the uniform shops or sales at posh schools. They will often have an array of football and sports shoes on sale for a few quid. Obviously you’ll need to ask if you can come if your child doesn’t attend the school, or go with a friend whose child attends.
- Supermarkets – for basics such as socks and shirts, try Sainsburys or Tesco. They are very cheap and I think that the quality at Sainsburys is as good as John Lewis.
- Who can tell the difference – once you have the official uniform, then you can shop around to see which high street shops do very close to the official that no one would notice.
- Bags and coats – I would wait if you have kids at secondary. At the end of the first week, your child will probably want a bag that is in with the other kids, so buy it then. For secondary, most kids here think it’s uncool to have a coat, so don’t fork out on a nice coat, but watch the older kids and buy thermals if it isn’t cool…
- Sell your old uniform – either in the school’s uniform shop, some of them will give you some money back or eBay.
- If your darlings have lost uniform – don’t rush out to buy a replacement immediately, sometimes it will turn up. Instead ask the school if they can lend you spares for a few weeks to see if they do actually come back home. A friend of mine said that her son wasn’t doing games until the school found the kit and lo and behold, the staff searched and it turned up the next day. I’ve borrowed kit at my kids’ primary schools, but not sure if this is possible at seniors though.