Guide to Surviving Back To School Uniforms Shopping

It's that time of the year again! Here's our round-up of top tips to keep your child and wallet both happy and ready for the start of the new school term.

As the new school year approaches, it is that time when our wallets feel a bit lighter and our children’s backpacks a lot heavier. Parents spend an average of £337 yearly on school uniforms – a big ask in the middle of a cost of living crisis. To help make things a little easier, we have done a roundup of tips to keep your child and wallet happy and ready for the school year.

Quality vs. Cost:

The start of the school year can mean new uniforms, PE kits and backpacks, and don’t forget those worn-out school shoes. We all know that buying better quality kit can save you money in the long run as it needs replacing less often, but the challenge is having the money all in one go – when things are tight, often we are forced to choose the cheapest option available, even if it means compromising a bit on quality.

That is where being a member of the credit union can help. Our Child Benefit loans let you borrow up to £600, which you can repay in manageable chunks directly from your Child Benefit over the year. Whether you’re buying school uniforms, fixing the car to take your children to school and work, or even a pricey overseas school trip, we have your back.   

Dress to impress:

Everyone knows you can save money by buying non-branded school uniforms. But to avoid wasted money, it is worth being clear on your school’s uniform policy. This also avoids any stress or upset caused by kids being told off or sent home. For example, it’s annoying from a cost perspective, but some schools still require certain items (usually things like blazers or jumpers) to be bought from a specific retailer or to have specific branding. It’s a bit of a minefield, so check first.

For the items you can get on the high street, there are some great deals this time of year. For example, ASDA offers a 10% off deal on back-to-school uniforms, Tesco has a 3 for 2, and M&S has a 3 for 2 mix-and-match offer for school uniforms.

Our Round-up of Costs


School shoes:

As we have already talked about, finding the right balance between affordability and durability for school shoes is crucial. While choosing the cheapest pair is tempting, you also want something that will withstand the World Cup-like football matches at lunchtime! Stores like Sports Direct offer shoes for infants and teens starting at £9, and ASDA has options from £4. Sainsbury’s and Matalan also have a range of affordable footwear.

Again, with uniform policies, shoes can be a bit of a nightmare. Usually, you’ll be looking for all-black shoes with no logos or brands. Trainers are a no-no, but with styles increasingly blurring the line between formal and informal shoes, it’s hard to tell what is or isn’t considered a trainer. With that in mind, it’s often best to be cautious.

School uniform grants:

For families on a lower income or receiving free school meals, your local council may be able to offer grants to help us with uniform costs. For example, Southwark provides a £45 voucher redeemable at select shops. Westminster council offers £150 towards secondary school uniforms for incoming year seven pupils. If your child is going to reception this year, they offer £41 for uniforms. GOV.UK has a handy tool that helps you see if your council has a grant and if you are eligible for it by typing in your postcode.  

Go Second hand:

With fast-growing kids, ‘pre-loved’ uniforms can be a great way to get hold of better-quality items for very little. Many schools have parent-run second hand shops, and you can often find details of this on their website, as well as from other sites like uniformerly.com and oldschooluniform.com. Parents’ WhatsApp or Facebook groups can also be a great place to check. And if you have school uniforms yourself that your kids have outgrown, don’t miss the chance to earn some extra pennies by selling them on yourself to a new home…


Preparing for the new school year doesn’t have to break the bank. At London Mutual, our mission is to help you avoid stress and uncertainty and to help you make your money go further. Whether you need an affordable way to borrow money for an unexpected expense like a boiler breakdown, car repairs, or childcare deposit, we may be able to help. We will even help you build savings as you repay your Child Benefit loans, which let you borrow up to £600 and repay in bite-sized instalments directly from your Child Benefit.

Charles Nyamukasa

Digital Marketing Apprentice at London Mutual Credit Union.

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