Wednesday 17th April 2024

The back-to-school uniform test – shops that score highest for value

Back to school

If your children are anything like mine, they tend to shoot upwards like beanstalks in the summer and grow a shoe size or two. Unless we take to feet binding or practice ancient growth-stunting techniques, it means a whole new set of school uniform will be required in the back-to-school September rush.

In the unlikely event that last year’s shirts do still fit my son, they’re usually covered in splodges of ink like he’s been channelling his inner Jackson Pollock, ground-in grass stains, dubious food spillages and missing buttons.

I like to get the back-to-school shopping done early, before prices go through the roof, and the queue in the shoe shop is out of control.

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In a quick survey among my friends with school-age children, the supermarkets and high street shops fared very well for price

I’ve been left stuck several times, by leaving it too late. It might mean predicting a jump in shoe size and some ‘you’ll grow into it’ imagination.

However, in a quick survey among my friends with school-age children, the supermarkets and high street shops fared very well for price, range (e.g. colour, styles), durability and fit.

Tesco gets top marks for its June/July ‘School Shop’ offers. One friend received her F&F School Shop offers booklet in the post, containing coupons such as £3 off shoes. Shirts start from £3 for a pack of two ‘easy-iron’ for girls, and their range of stain-resistant Teflon-coated trousers with reinforced knees starts at £4.00.

We love the DIY foot measure in Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer promises ‘great value and easy care’. The boys trousers with crease resistance and triple action storm-proofing were the overall favourite. Starting at £7.20, these trousers have passed the football test, come in various fits for our growing boys including slim fit, and the online size guide is clear and user-friendly. We like the store’s DIY foot measure, too.

Asda gets an A+ for polo shirts (£2.50) and plimsolls (£2.50). The range promises Teflon finishes for durability. If you need uniform in harder-to-find colours like red and royal blue, this is the place. Order their iron-on name tapes using your mobile phone for convenience.

Other sales to try

Sainsbury’s Tu ‘School Shop’ (summer uniform on sale now, including girls’ gingham dresses)

Debenhams for 20% off school uniform and shoes right now.

Check with the school for any second hand uniform supplies. This is a good way to pick up school-specific items that can’t be bought cheaply elsewhere, such as ties, sports team kit or clothing with a logo.

Coats and shoes are likely to be the biggest spend, and it’s worth going for quality over price on these hard working items. I bought cheaper shoes for my son last year but in the second week of term they fell apart. I like M&S for fit. My friends go for Kickers, Sports Direct or Next for sturdy, lasting shoes.

A can of shoe protector spray can delay the inevitable playground wear and tear, too.

Pic credit: ‘Schoolboys in England, on the beach’ by Ollie Jones.


Clare Lawrence

Mouthy Blogger

Clare Lawrence, nicknamed 'Coupon Clare' at college, lives mostly in Cornwall. Proud mum to Gregory, she'll stop at nothing in her quest to save cash!

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