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Friday 26th August 2016
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How to stop back to school costing a fortune

Posted by Sarah Willingham on September 01, 2014 at 17:38PM

Parents spend an average of 200 kitting out a child to go back to school, but how can you do it for less? Sarah Willingham has the answers.


Where to buy?

* NOW is the time that the supermarket price war really hots up for school uniforms!  Aldi are usually ALWAYS the cheapest with a jumper, two cotton polo shirts and trousers or a skirt for just 4 - how is it even possible?!  However, school uniform is classed as a Special Buy item so they aren't in stock all the time.  It is worth calling ahead if Aldi isn't that local to you so you don't have a wasted trip.  

* Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's are all doing school uniform sets for under 10 (although the price goes up as the age and size of the child does so watch out for that) and BHS, Debenhams and M&S have some AMAZING deals for under 15.  I would speak to other parents who have bought High Street stuff so that you can find out how well they last and whether they wash nicely.  Remember, the deal is only good if you don't have to keep replacing items throughout the term!  Tesco are doing a big PR launch this summer about them being the best quality. 

* Tesco F&F have a brilliant deal on at the moment - the clubcard boost.  You can swap any existing clubcard vouchers you have for vouchers worth DOUBLE to buy back to school items.  This is a no brainer.  Go to the clubcard site, opt for F&F and you will be send a voucher worth twice as much as your existing clubcard voucher - you can use any existing vouchers. Basically means your school uniform is half price! 

* Shoes are SO expensive and they rarely last the year!  Shoes For Kids sell shoe brands online at up to 60% off.  I found a 40 pair online for 25 last week but STILL found them cheaper at the John Lewis sale that's still on - limited sizes but worth checking.   Matalan have 20% off too. 

* Be careful with some shoes online and just check they're what youre looking for.  i.e. if you want leather make sure you're getting leather. 

Second hand

* Don't be afraid to buy second hand for some of the more expensive items, like blazers or sports kit.   If your school doesn't have a second hand store then get the PTA to start one!!  It can be a good way to earn money back too by 'donating' your old stuff (they usually give you a percentage of the sale price back)

Top tips

*F&F at Tesco now offer an amazing embroidery service where you can still buy the cheaper supermarket uniform but have the logo of any participating school embroidered on.  Hundreds of school are available and you can even order online and earn Clubcard points. Tesco are also giving 5% cashback to your school when you order. It takes 14 days. If your school isn't registered then you can nominate them. 

* Sign up to a cashback site like Topcashback or Quidco and try and earn money back on your purchases. They usually have a GREAT back to school section with exclusive deals and special bonus cashback deals too.  6.3% of tesco F&F, 9.45% staples, 21% off mynametags and 10% off clarks. 

* Label EVERYTHING!  I am never surprised when one of my kids tells me they have lost something but if you label everything, you are more likely to get it back!  I buy labels with just our surname so I can save money bulk buying and use for all the kids.  Track down those vouchers!


* You can get FREE Oxford Owl eBooks for children online at and many 'classics' like The Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice are free to download on a kindle.  

* Google eBooks and textbooks online as there are lots that you can download FOR FREE. 

* Amazon is a great place for second hand textbooks and you can often pick them up for HALF PRICE. 

* Students, sign up to freebie sites and specialist student websites who offer you amazing vouchers and deals and also tell you where the best bargains are to be had on a weekly basis. We really like Studentbeans and Amazon Student is a great hub offering loads of help and offers.  See if you can get school books for free via a book-swapping website, such as Bookmooch or ReadItSwapIt

* For stationary wilkos is awesome - bargains too big to mention but an extra 10% off if you spend 10.  Half prince pencil cases at WH smith and 60% off learning books including GCSE and A-level books. 


* Hockey sticks, tennis rackets, football boots, shin pads or other sports equipment can be expensive but try discount sports stores such as Sports Direct or have a look online at JD Sports, Gym bags from 3.50 at tesco and pump bags for 1 - great deals on lunch boxes too. 

* The summer holidays are a good time to look for second hand goodies on Ebay,  Gumtree or Freecycle as parents start to take stock, especially if one of their children is leaving school or heading off to university and always check on your local facebook page. 

* If your child is keen to learn a musical instrument, ask the school if you can borrow or rent one for a term to make sure that your child is serious about it first. 

* If you do have a musical offspring, check out Take it away, the Arts Council programme that offers interest free loans of up to 5000 to spread the cost of parents wanting to buy their children instruments (or individuals aged 18-25 wanting to buy one for themselves) to be paid back over 9 or 18 months


* Don't forget to do a quick check of your Child Benefit to make sure that you are getting what you are entitled to. New rules were brought in earlier this year so it is important to check, especially if your household income has changed.

* You could also apply for a grant from Family Action. They give grants of up to 200 to low income families with children - particularly families on benefits or when a parent has just lost their job.

* For more great tips read my 1 minute guide to back to school