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Families in England could pay £50/yr less for school uniforms from next year

Families in England could pay £50/yr less for school uniforms from next year

The cost of buying school uniform for children in England will fall from next year after new statutory guidance has been published that forces schools to keep prices down to ensure uniform costs do not become a barrier to education. Costs won't, however, be capped. 

The new rules, which were rubber stamped by Parliament in April this year, will mean schools will be required to:

  • Make sure contracts with uniform suppliers are competitive and transparent in order to lower costs.
  • That the quality and longevity of garments is considered, alongside the cost.
  • That the cost of a uniform does not restrict where pupils go to school.
  • Consider high street alternatives and remove unnecessary branded items. 
  • Encourage the use of second-hand uniform. 
  • Ensure the uniform policy is published on the school's website, and is clear and easily accessible for parents.

Research from the Department for Education in 2015 showed that parents can save almost £50 on average if they can buy all school uniform items from any store, compared to uniform which all needs to be bought from a designated shop or school.

All schools need to have taken steps to adhere to the guidance before parents buy uniforms for the new school year in September 2022. Schools that need to secure new contracts with uniform suppliers will have until December 2022 to do so.

See our Cheap School Uniform Deals page for help.

'School uniform must never be a burden for parents'

The new law was first introduced as a Private Members’ Bill by Labour MP Mike Amesbury and received cross-party support to become law.

Secretary of state for education, Nadhim Zahawi, said: "This new binding guidance will help make uniforms far more affordable for families by driving costs down as we work hard to level up the country."

How to cut the cost of school uniform

While the new law should help cut some of the cost from next year, there are many more ways to make the cost of buying uniform more manageable. Here are a few key tips:

  • Check if you can get help from your local council or school. If you live in England and you're struggling with the cost of school uniform, check if your local council provides help using the Government's postcode checker tool. This support isn't available everywhere, so if your council does not offer help, ask your child’s school directly.

    The situation is slightly different if you live in Northern IrelandScotland or Wales as grants are available in all areas for those on a low income. See our guide to Cutting School Uniform Costs for full info. 
  • Bag cheap supermarket school uniforms. These are plain coloured clothes with no unique school badges, and can be excellent value if your child's school allows generic uniforms. And even if you do need items with a logo, sometimes it's cheaper to buy a generic sweatshirt and iron on a badge yourself – this can work out more cost effective than official sweatshirts. See our Cheap school uniform deals page for a round-up of some of the best bargains.

  • Keep an eye out for sales. You can often get 20% or 25% off school uniform when M&S and Tu (Sainsbury's) do their blanket clothing discounts a few times a year.

  • Buy second-hand uniforms from your school. Ask about your school's second-hand school uniform sales, which usually happen a few times a year. Sometimes you can be lucky and grab bargain uniform for just a few quid.

  • Check local Facebook groups and other online marketplaces. eBay and Facebook Marketplace can be a treasure trove – look out for bundles. 
  • Check if you can get other financial help. If you're struggling, there's a lot more cash out there to help than you may think. Charities, the Government and even companies have funds that are available to help, especially if you've got children. Millions of pounds' worth of grants, loans and tax credits go unclaimed. Check here to see if there's any help available to you.

For more help, see Cutting school uniform costs and Cheap school uniform deals.

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