School uniform MoneySaving tips

With the summer holidays coming to a close, you've just days left to get your child's school uniform sorted. We've handy tips on how to kit out the kids on the cheap.

Eight ways to save on school uniform

Kids grow at a rapid rate, so they’re going to need a number of different uniforms during their years at school. Factor in PE kits as well, and costs can seriously add up – with parents forking out an average of £337 a year on school uniform for each secondary school child and £315 a year for each primary school child. Here are our tips and tricks for saving money on uniform.

  1. Pick up uniform sets from £5 at supermarkets

    If your school isn't too strict on buying official uniform from specialist suppliers, then supermarkets are nearly always the cheapest place to buy new kit.

    Prices for a full set (polo shirts, sweatshirt, and skirt or trousers) cost from as little as £5 at certain times of year at Aldi and Lidl – July until September is one of the cheapest times to buy.

    Other major supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's offer sets year-round from under £10, and some high street retailers such as M&S offer uniform sets for under £22. 

    And currently, Asda and John Lewis have uniform sales where you can pick up a full set from the discounted price of £15.30 and £16.50 respectively. 

    Prices vary depending on size, except at Aldi and Lidl where the price is the same for all sizes. It's worth noting how many items you get in a pack. Top deals are below...

    0 Current Deals

    • You can get school uniform items (ages 2-14) online or in store (find your nearest*) from £7.99 at H&M*. Standard delivery's £3.99, but members get free delivery on orders over £20. In store pick-up is free for members and free to non-members if you spend over £20.

      It's free to sign up* to become a member, and once you've logged in, you'll be able to access members only perks. If you're a Plus member, both delivery and in store pick-up is free.

      What can you get?

      Unlike other retailers, prices don't vary depending on size for school uniform at H&M.

      Want some more H&M tips? See our H&M Deals page.

      See all deals: H&M (6 deals)
    • If you go online to Sainsbury's or visit a store that stocks the Tu clothing range (find your nearest), you can get school uniform items (ages 2-16) from £3.50. Delivery's £3.95 and click and collect is free on orders over £15. 

      What can you get?

      Prices change depending on size. Some sizes are currently out of stock online, so it's worth looking in store if you can't find the size you want online.

      See all deals: Sainsbury's (9 deals)
    • If you shop in store at Lidl (find your nearest), you can get a full school uniform for £5 (ages 4-12). Lidl is price-matching Aldi with this price. This deal began in July and is only while stocks last, so you may not be able to find a full uniform set now.

      What's included?

      Regardless of size, the prices stay the same, so it's no more expensive to kit out the bigger kids than the littl'uns. 

      This deal is only available in stores and you can't check stock levels online, so you'll need to head to your local store to see if you're able to find any. 

      See our latest Lidl deals for more ways to save.

      See all deals: Lidl (7 deals)
    • If you go in store to Aldi* (find your nearest*), you can get a full school uniform for £5 (ages 4-12), while stocks last. The uniforms will be in stores from Thursday 4 July and is part of Aldi's 'Specialbuys' where stock isn't usually replenished, so go quickly if this is something you're after.

      What's included?

      • Sweatshirt – £1.50
      • 2x polo shirts – £1.75
      • Girl's pleated skirt – £1.75
      • Boy's trousers – £1.75
      • Boy's cargo shorts – £1.75

      Regardless of size, the prices stay the same, so it's no more expensive to kit out the bigger kids than the littl'uns. Aldi has also introduced a 12-month guarantee on its uniforms. 

      This deal is only available in stores and you can't check stock levels online, so you'll need to head to your local store to see if you're able to find any. 

      See our latest Aldi deals for more ways to save.

      See all deals: Aldi (5 deals)
    • You can get school uniform items (ages 3-18) from £3 at Asda*, both online and in stores. If you're buying online, standard delivery's £3.50. Click and collect from a store (find your nearest*) is free. Stock for the cheapest items is starting to run very low, so there's no guarantee you'll be able to get what you're after.

      What can you get?

      Prices change depending on size. We noticed that a lot of sizes are sold out online. If George at Asda doesn't have the size you need available to order, try visiting a store instead. Alternatively, there are other similar items available online, but you may pay more for them.

      • Delivery not available for the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

      See all deals: Asda (8 deals)
    • You can get school uniform items (ages 3-16) online or in store (find your nearest*) from £6 at John Lewis*. Standard delivery's £4.50, or free if you're spending over £50. Many of the cheapest items are now running low in stock, so there's no guarantee that you'll be able to find the sizes or items you're after.

      What can you get?

      Prices increase according to age.

      See all deals: John Lewis (2 deals)
    • You can get school uniform items (ages 3-16) from £4 online at Matalan* and in stores (find your nearest*). Standard delivery's £3.95 or you can click and collect from a store for free. Stock of the cheapest items is now running very low and there's no guarantee that you'll be able to get the items or sizes that you need. 

      What can you get? 

      Prices change depending on size.

      • Click and collect is currently unavailable in Northern Ireland and the following stores:

        Aberdeen Portlethen, Aberystwyth, Accrington, Ayr, Banbury, Barrow, Basingstoke, Bracknell, Bridgewater, Canterbury, Chester, Chesterfield, Christchurch, Clydebank, Colne, Darnley, Derby, Dunfermline, Edinburgh Leith, Edmonton, Elgin, Exeter Clearance, Fareham, Galashiels, Gateshead Central, Glasgow City, Grantham, Hunts Cross, Kendal, Leeds City Centre, Leeds Kirkstall, Leicester City Centre, Lewisham, Liverpool Williamson Square, Macclesfield, Maidstone, Oldbury, Oxford, Oxford Street, Perth, Portsmouth, Preston St George's, Rugby, Salisbury, Scarborough, Sheffield, Southampton, Stafford, Stevenage, Stratford, Taunton, Thanet, Weymouth, Wolverhampton, York 

      See all deals: Matalan (2 deals)
    • You can get school uniform items (ages 3-13) from £4.95 at Morrisons* in stores only (find your nearest*). Stock is beginning to run low in some of the cheapest items, so there's no guarantee you'll be able to get what you're after. 

      What can you get?

      • 3x polo shirts - £4.95 
      • 2x sweatshirt - £7
      • 2 x skirts - £8
      • 2x trousers - £9
      See all deals: Morrisons (5 deals)
    • You can get school uniform items (ages 3-16) from £4 at Tesco, in store only (find your nearest*). As the uniform is only sold in stores, it's not possible to check stock levels online. Some items may be running low in stock, so there's no guarantee you'll be able to get what you're after.

      What can you get?

      • 3x polo shirts - from £4
      • 2x sweatshirts - from £5
      • 2x trousers - from £7
      • 2x skirts - from £7

      Prices change depending on size.

      See all deals: Tesco (8 deals)

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  2. Look out for 20%-25% off in sales

    Some retailers run regular promotions, which include discounts on school uniform. More often than not, a retailer runs its offers at the same time every year, so if you know when a deal is likely coming, it can pay to wait. Big sales include:

    Several times a year, you can get 25% off Sainsbury’s Tu clothing in larger stores and online, which includes school uniform. In the past, we've seen the offer in February, April, May, August, September and October, and it usually lasts about a week.

    For the past 10 years, M&S* has offered 20% off school uniform online and in stores at the end of June/beginning of July. It applies to the majority of schoolwear but excludes shoes, accessories and coats.

    Ask yourself whether you need to buy everything at once? Create an inventory and pick up each item as and when you find a good deal – it will also help spread the cost.

  3. Get a government grant of up to £200 government if you need it

    Parents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible for a grant to help with uniform costs (and some in England, but it's a postcode lottery). You can find out if this applies to you by entering your postcode at Gov.uk, which will direct you to your local borough. As well as school uniform, you may be able to get help with sports kit, childcare, travel and course materials. See our Check if you can get a grant of up to £200 MSE news story for full details. 

  4. Bag second-hand uniform for free or under £5

    Another way to save on school uniform is to get it second-hand. After all, a few sloppily eaten lunches and overzealous art sessions, and that brand new school uniform isn't going to look immaculate for long.

    eBay and charity shops

    If you have older children, then hand-me-downs are easy, but if not, you can check out eBay or visit local charity shops (find your nearest) close to your child’s school. We heard that one primary school in South London donates all unclaimed lost property to local charity shops at the end of each term – we’re not sure how common a tactic this is, but we like it.

    Facebook

    The online social platform is buzzing with offers of used school items, both in individual groups such as Second Hand, Nearly New School Uniform For Sale or Free, and in its Marketplace. It could be worth checking Facebook to see if your school has a dedicated group or page of its own.

    Facebook Marketplace allows you to filter by distance, price and latest posting. Previously we found some logo sweatshirts, an official tie, generic trousers and more for free, as well as hundreds of other items for about £2-£5. Beware though, many posts are listed as 'free' but turn out to be a job lot of different items, all with a price attached.

    Freecycle

    Sign up for a free Freecycle account and you can search for uniform being given away for free, or you can add a ‘wanted’ post. In the past we've seen a school-specific blazer, skirt and shirts offered in Bolton, a boy’s uniform bundle in Hackney and a college-specific bundle in Cardiff.

    Parent Teacher Association

    It's common for a school’s Parent Teacher Association to hold second-hand clothing sales, so get in touch to find out if your child’s has one. If it doesn’t, suggest it to the PTA and, if you can, volunteer to help set one up. You could also organise a ‘swap shop’ event with other parents. These methods are particularly useful if your school has an official uniform with a logo, which is difficult to find affordably when bought new.

    Uniformerly 

    Uniformerly is an online marketplace where parents, schools and PTAs can buy, sell or even give away pre-loved uniform items. You'll just need to search for your child's school (there's currently over 4,900 UK schools signed up), and then Uniformerly will display items nearby, with some going for as little as 50p. There's no selling fees or commission taken either, and you can also set alerts to notify you when a specific item is added to the platform. 

  5. Check outlet stores for up to 50% off

    Outlet store prices tend to be more appealing than their high street counterparts, including:

    • Clarks Outlet* – often has lots of shoes at 50% off online and in store (find your nearest). Delivery’s £4.95 if shopping online.

    • M&S Outlet - it has dozens of outlet stores which have 30% or more off the main M&S store price.

    MSE Molly says...

    Outlet items are often incredibly similar styles to the full-price versions, but a fraction of the cost. They’re dotted all around the country, but if you don’t live close to one, weigh up first whether it will still be MoneySaving for you once you factor in driving or train costs. Some centres also do a further discount for you if you are from outside the area – so head online first to check out if there’s a loyalty scheme or visit customer relations when you arrive.

  6. Plan for growth spurts

    Buy clothing a few sizes larger than your child currently needs. Plenty of parents buy uniform with growth spurts in mind, so that you don't end up having to buy uniform as often.

    Ex-MSE Carol says...

    If you are, say, buying a blazer, buy a size or two up so that it lasts a few years. At that age, they’re growing so much, they could grow out of a blazer in a term.

    How many items of clothing will your littl’un need? Our forumites share their thoughts.

  7. How to make uniforms last longer

    A few tips to keep uniforms wearable (and findable) for longer...
     
    • Once you’ve got the uniform, decrease the chances of having to replace it too soon by keeping it in good nick.
    • Name tags will prevent jumpers, coats and blazers from getting lost. Sewn-in name tags last longer than iron-on ones. Some parents find writing their child's name in biro on the care tags does the trick just fine, while others suggest that if you write the surname only, it makes hand-me-downs easier (unless you've got a particularly common surname, that is).
    • And finally, a simple idea – make sure your wee’uns change out of their clothes when they get home from school.
  8. What if my child's school insists on official emblazoned clothing?

    It’s common for a school to have a blazer with a badge on it and a specifically patterned tie, which would have to be bought from special shops or from the school itself. Some schools, however, require more of these bespoke clothing items than others do.

    Although it's up to individual schools to decide on and enforce uniform policy, the Department of Education suggests that schools should consider cost and availability to ensure best value for money – though it will almost always work out more expensive than being able to choose where you buy.

    Unfortunately, if your school is strict on having an official uniform from a specialist supplier, there is little you can do, but Gov.uk suggests speaking to the school's PTA if it makes changes to its uniform policy that requires compulsory expensive items, and to Citizens Advice if it still enforces it.

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