How much will it all cost me?

A new school means a new uniform and – sadly – kitting out your child for the start of term doesn’t always come cheap.

It’s been estimated that parents spend upwards of £200 ahead of the new academic year on everything from trousers, skirts and shirts to PE kits. On top of this will be cash paid out for stationery, backpacks, books and technology, and this adds up to £2.9 billion across the country. 

While primary schools tend to be more flexible, secondary schools often require more items such as blazers to be purchased from specified suppliers.

To make sure you are not caught off guard, it’s always best to check what the school’s uniform policy requires beforehand. It can normally be found on their website. 

Most will allow some basics to be bought from any shop as long as they are the correct colour. 

But pay attention to the fine details such as the minimum length and permitted types of skirts and the styles of trousers that are allowed.

Shoes are a regular issue for parents as schools are very specific on what is required. It’s better to be absolutely sure that the shoes you are looking at will be allowed before you spend the money. 

Also be wary of being talked into buying items by your child just because they are more fashionable – unless you know for certain they will not be infringing the uniform policy on the first day.

For many the cost of buying school uniform can seem overwhelming but there are ways to make it more manageable. 

Make a list so that you know exactly what you need to buy – this will stop you from buying items that are not needed and reduce the risk of you getting side-tracked in the shops. 

Bulk buying can also bring the price down – most retailers offer multi-packs that are better value. If you end up with too much then you could split the cost with another parent who has a child of the same age.

Spreading the cost throughout the year can also reduce the bill – just buy the essentials now and then top it up with other items when needed later in the year. 

If you are still struggling to cover the cost then some councils, such as Sandwell, run grant schemes with cash available as long as conditions are met. 

Bear in mind that your child may get involved in extra-curricular activities and there could be additional costs involved such as equipment, musical instrument and art supplies. 

Find out early what these may be so you can budget for them.

School trips, while certainly educational and fun for your child, can be another strain on your finances and something worth planning ahead for. 

Although trips are optional, peer pressure can mean you feel you are left with little choice but to find the money. 

And the older your child gets, the more opportunities there will be for foreign trips that are likely to be more costly. 

Schools are able to charge parents a fee for board and lodging for school residential trips.

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