Children in their earlier years of school tend to spend a lot of time outside. In fact, reception classrooms nowadays are meant to allow pupils 'free flow' access to outdoor play areas. Even older kids have a lot of playtimes, so it's essential to get them a coat which will keep them warm and dry.
It's best to check what's allowed in your child's school by consulting the uniform list - some are stricter than others about colours and styles. Private schools might tie you into a 'regulation' coat with a logo from their official outfitters.
Camilla Rowe, Head of Children's wear at John Lewis advises making sure your child can do the coat up themselves: 'It's important that younger children can do any zips and buttons up as in a busy classroom, there won't always be someone quickly at hand to help.'
She also warns that you should only choose a coat which can be machine washed and dries fairly quickly - assuming your child only has one school coat, you might well need to launder it overnight if it gets particularly grubby.
Our own top tip is to go for two-in-one style coats - with an outer waterproof shell and an inner detachable layer of fleece or quilted fabric, to add warmth in winter. These are ideal as one coat can last all year in its different modes.