Cost of School Uniform
How can parents cope with the rising cost of school uniform? Source: Shutterstock

School uniform is mandatory in many schools worldwide, whether it’s a private, public or international school.

The cost of school uniform can be major for parents, as children often outgrow their uniforms year after year – especially in their primary years.

But the cost of school uniform is undoubtedly rising, particularly in the UK. According to the BBC, “Research by market analysts Mintel suggests British parents spend about £1.2bn on clothing and equipment for school.

“The Department for Education (DfE) asked 1,183 parents about uniform costs in 2015 and found it came to almost £213 per child. Adjusting its figures for inflation, it would make the average cost of uniform in 2019 almost £230 per pupil.

“Adding in PE kit, the parents surveyed spent the equivalent to £70 more for primary school children and between £111 and £140 extra for those of secondary school age.”

For countries that have made school uniform mandatory in all public schools, there have been calls for government to step in and make guideline changes to reduce the financial burden on parents.

As the BBC reported, “The government said ways of reducing the costs of the uniform could include stipulating basic items and colours but not styles, which would mean clothing could be bought from different shops.”

In Wales, the government recently set some guidelines to make uniforms more standardised, accessible and affordable. They will also be gender-neutral, meaning wearing trousers is not limited to only male students.

Source: Giphy

Now that it’s back-to-school season, many parents are looking for ways to find cheaper alternatives on school uniforms and supplies.

Here are some other ways to reduce the rising cost of school uniform:

Don’t buy brand-new

It’s not wholly necessary to buy brand-new school uniforms if your child is only going to wear them for a short time, and especially when the cost is so high.

The BBC recommends that parents look for used school uniforms on Facebook groups, as they are fast becoming a popular option for second-hand buying and selling.

“A sample of 100 Facebook groups set up in Britain and containing the words “school uniform” and “swap” or “free” showed they had 34,110 members between them, an average of more than 340 each.”

If you can’t find them on social media, there are also websites such as UniformSwapShop and OldSchoolUniform, where parents can buy, sell or donate their kid’s school uniforms.

There are also charities where donated uniforms are recycled for parents to use. Kate France told the BBC that she “wants to challenge what she calls the UK’s culture of “always buying new” school uniforms.”

In 2011, she set up the charity Uniform Exchange, which is also about reducing unnecessary waste. She said, “When my kids get home in the evening, their uniform is covered in pen or mud. Any school uniform will look second hand by the end of the first week.”

Some schools also hold exchange swaps or second-hand school uniform sales, so keep a lookout for these.

Look for funding

Many countries offer funding to those from lower-income groups to help reduce the costs of school uniforms and supplies.

They are usually from the government, councils or schools.

According to the BBC, “In England schools can use the funding they get from the DfE’s pupil premium – money allocated for children from poorer backgrounds.”

In Victoria, Australia, the State Schools’ Relief helps parents with the cost of new school uniforms, shoes and books for families facing hardship.

The website states, “The Victorian Government has provided more than $15.65 million to State Schools’ Relief to help provide 100,000 students with free or discounted new school uniforms, shoes and books over four years (2015-19).”

Parents should find out if they qualify for these types of funding if they’re struggling with the cost of school uniform.

Look for cheaper options

In the UK, the BBC found that the cost of school uniform is often cheaper in the supermarket, though they may lack quality compared to bespoke shops selling school uniforms.

“The BBC compared school clothing on the websites of four large UK supermarkets and found the average prices were about £58 less for a primary school uniform and £118 less for a secondary school uniform than in the government’s survey of parents.”

With the rise of e-commerce, parents today also have online options that allow them to look for cheaper school uniforms that are new, rather than having to rely solely on department stores or bespoke shops.

Comparing prices on websites such as Amazon or in the supermarket can help parents save a significant amount of money on school uniforms.

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