Coming to terms with the cost of new school uniforms

As state schools in Wales reopen to all pupils in September, many families who’ve suffered financially during the Covid-19 lockdown will find the cost of new school uniforms an expensive blow..

The average annual cost of a secondary school uniform in the UK currently standing at £340 and primary school uniform at £255, it’s a significant expense.

A Children’s Society survey in 2018 found that the high cost is because schools make parents buy specific items of clothing from specialist shops – rather than grab bargains from supermarkets and sew on a badge later.

It estimated 220,000 children had their school chosen partly on account of the cost of the uniform – something that the School Admissions Code says must not happen.

An estimated 780,000 children wore uniforms that didn’t fit because their parents couldn’t afford new items, many faced humiliation and bullying. Around 350,000 children were sent home for wearing “incorrect” items.

The report suggested that more than 1.1 million children live in families that have cut back spending on food as a result of uniform costs.

If you’re on a low income in Wales, you could get as much as £200 a year from the Welsh Government towards the cost of a school uniform. The pupil development grant amounts to £200 per year, per child for year 7 pupils, £125 for reception, year 3 and year 10 pupils.

If you’re not eligible then there are ways of cutting the costs:

  • Use local social media selling groups where parents swap school uniforms if they’re in a good condition
  • If you have more than one child, then hang on to old uniforms and pass them down to younger siblings
  • Buy uniforms a bit larger than you think you need because children grow very quickly and you can always take up the hems of trousers and bring them down again
  • Make use of coupons, promotions and always shop around for textbooks or technology.
  • Clarks is offering a deal that if you go in store for shoes, boots, plimsols or sports shoes for your child, you won’t have to buy a new pair until February 28, 2021. If they outgrow them you can exchange a pair for free.
  • In the long term you may want to consider opening a savings account so you can manage your finances better in the futur

As social enterprises with no external shareholders, credit unions are able to offer loans at very competitive rates of interest.

Find your nearest credit union here

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