School uniform can be really expensive and is it is natural that some parents will worry about being able to afford it. It is also wise to be prepared financially in case you have to replace uniform. Children grow a lot and this could be the main reason for having to replace it but sometimes uniform gets lots or damages and it may need replacing then as well. It is worth learning more about school uniform, making sure you know where you can get it and then working out how much money you should keep by for it.
Facts about uniform
It is worth knowing that in England school uniform is only compulsory in state schools for secondary school children. This means that for any child aged under 11 in a state primary school, the school has no force to apply regulation uniform. The government only enforces a uniform policy for secondary schools. This means that if you cannot afford the uniform then there is no way that the school can enforce a uniform policy. Of course, the school might try to do this and the child may feel that they need to fit in by having the uniform. It does mean though, if they have lost a jumper, for example, you should be able to send them in a non-uniform one until you have the money to afford a replacement.
It is possible to get financial help towards the cost of uniform once your children are in secondary school. There are certain criteria to fulfil to get the help but if you are struggling it is worth finding out if you can get this. The school will probably be able to give you information about it.
Often in secondary schools the uniform list that is sent out to parents is out of date or not quite right. For example, a school may have an overall on their uniform but the school could provide them. They may have multiple pieces of PE kit but then only certain ones get worn. Try to find out from parents who have children currently at the school whether this is the case as it could save you money if you do not have to buy everything.
Where to buy uniform
It is worth knowing that most schools will have second hand uniform available to buy. Often this is organised by the PTA but school themselves may deal with it. It is wise to find out as soon as possible so that you are able to start looking. Second hand supply could be quite limited but it is always well worth taking a look at what is available. You may find that some schools will have a much bigger supply than others, but it is always worth checking as you could save a significant amount of money.
Many parents do not feel comfortable with buying second hand shoes because of the importance of looking after growing feet. However, when it comes to sports shoes, it could be worth a thought. Often a pair of football, rugby or hockey boots will only be worn for one term a year and they are probably too small by the following year. If your child is not in a sports team and so only wear them for a small amount of time then it could be worth compromising with a second hand pair.
You might be able to find second hand uniform online as well. Some parents might choose to sell it on social media for sale pages or in other local areas, rather than donating it to the PTA. You may even find some in local charity shops so it is worth keeping a good look out for it.
Most schools will be affiliated with a specific shop that will sell their uniform. Make sure that you become aware of any sales that they have or any loyalty or discount schemes so that you can save money if possible.
How much money to keep for uniform
It is worth finding out how much replacing uniform will cost so that you know roughly how much money to keep in. If your child is changing schools then you will have to buy a whole set of uniform and PE kit all in one go and that can be really expensive. However, if they are already in a school then it is likely that you will only have to replace certain items. However, if their feet grow then you may need enough to replace shoes, trainers and football boots or if their legs get longer you may need to replace trousers and jogging bottoms etc. It is therefore wise to make sure that you have enough to replace multiple items of clothing. You should also make sure that you consider how many sets you will need to replace. You may have two jumpers, for example so you can have one on and one in the wash so if they grow out of it you will need to replace two.
It is worth remembering though that you might be able to take out a loan if you do not have enough money saved up. Although a loan is costly, it can be reassuring to know that you have this option to fall back on should you need it.