10 Genuinely Helpful Tips That'll Save You Money On School Uniform

Here's where you'll find the best money-saving codes and discounts.
Peter Muller via Getty Images

School uniform is not cheap. Sure, you can pick up the basics at the supermarket, but by the time you add on jumpers with the school crest, blazers and PE kits, the outlay for parents shoots up.

It now costs almost £100 on average to get your child fully kitted out for the year in compulsory uniform, according to the consumer watchdog Which?.

And in the context of a cost of living crisis, when you might have multiple growing children to contend with, parents will be looking to make savings wherever possible.

To help, here are 10 top tips for cutting costs ahead of the new term.

1. Ask the school about second-hand uniform

Parents can check if their child’s school or Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has a second-hand selling group, where you may be able to pick up pre-loved items. While this might not be available at every school, you could try organising your own second-hand sale with the school or check social media sites and apps such as Facebook Marketplace or Freecycle.

2. Don’t be tricked by multipacks

Many school uniform items are sold in multipacks of two, four and five pieces. Although this might be good value for basic white polo shirts that kids might need to wear fresh each day, it might not be necessary to buy 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, Tu at Sainsbury’s sells a multipack of four black woven school trousers for nine-year-olds for £16, which is £4 per pair. But you’ll pay the same price per item if you buy the two-pack, for £8. So don’t feel you have to buy more than you need.

3. Buddy up

Alternatively, if you spot a great multipack offer and you don’t really need all of the items, parents could 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. Buy ‘grow-proof’ uniform

Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to buy uniform in the next size up, especially if it’s an expensive item such as a blazer. You can also try taking up long school trousers and letting the hem down as your child grows. Some shops, such as Marks & Spencer, sell trousers with a ‘grow-proof hem’, which are made with extra length. When children grow taller, you can let the trousers down by unpicking the hem and pressing with an iron.

5. Check for grants

Some parents will be eligible for a school uniform grant worth £200, depending on their income and where they 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. Not every council in England offers this, but you can check what’s on offer via the government website. Grant schemes also differ across the UK.

7. Look in outlet stores for shoes

Some major shoe shops have online outlet stores where you can pick up discounted shoes for a fraction of the cost. Which? found some girls’ school shoes for £32 on Clarks Outlet, a third (33%) less than the full price of £48. Elsewhere, you can get cheaper footwear from Office Offcuts, 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.

8. Keep uniform in good condition to last longer

While you can’t stop kids from outgrowing their uniforms, you can keep clothes in good condition to delay having to buy replacements. For example, you can buy a clothes shaver for as little as £5 on Amazon, which can make worn wool jumpers look new. Polishing school shoes regularly will protect them and leave them looking smarter as well.

9. Search for deals

Many retailers offer deals and discounts on uniforms at this time of year, so it’s worth looking and shopping around for the best ones. For example, Kickers is running a family deal that offers 20% off if you buy two pairs of school shoes, or 25% off three pairs. Meanwhile, Aldi is currently selling lots of school uniform items, including a girl’s black pleated skirt for just £1.75.

10. 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.