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MoneyMagpie’s guide to getting a cheap or free school uniform

Nicola Kelly 22nd Aug 2023 No Comments

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As any parent knows, the six-week summer holidays are a mix of fun trips out with the family accompanied by meltdowns, chaos and mountains of money spent on childcare. 

With just two weeks to go before children head back to their classrooms, getting back to the usual routine should be music to your ears. 

But for many, especially with the cost of living crisis, there is another stress looming: how to pay for the new school uniform. 

The Department for Education encourages schools to have a uniform policy because it reduces peer-pressure about having the latest clothes, helps build the character of a school and an identity within the community, and helps develop a good learning environment. 

But the costs can rack up fast, so here is MoneyMagpie’s guide to getting cheap or free school uniforms.  Read on, or click on the links below to go straight to each section…


The big shops

Aldi and Lidl 

Always good for a bargain, these two supermarkets are the cheapest when it comes to buying a uniform bundle.  For just £5 you can pick up either trousers or a pleated skirts, two polo shirts and a sweatshirt at Aldi for children aged 4-12 years, from now until August 31.   

Lidl too has frozen its budget friendly uniform bundle, offering the same type of deal as Aldi. However, as ever with these two retailers, the bundles are only available while stocks last so don’t leave it until the last minute. Also, they can’t be bought online, you have to go into the store. 



Asda’s George schoolwear can be bought online with a polo shirt two-pack at £3, two shorts for a fiver and two skirts for £7. It’s also selling shirts from £1.75, trousers are £3.50 each, and a pair of socks for every day of the week will set you back a further £3. 

Delivery is an extra £3.50 but it might still be cheaper than the petrol to travel to your local Asda. 



The UK’s biggest supermarket is selling its bargain uniforms in selected larger stores so check with the retailer if they’ve got what you need. A three-pack of white polo shirts costs from £4, while everything else is being sold in pairs – red cardigans start from £8, blue sweatshirts are from £5, grey trousers are from £8 and pleated dresses are £10. 



Like its competitors, the store has been mindful of parents forced to count the pennies and has frozen its TU school uniform prices since 2022. You can order online (delivery starts at £3.95), while click and collect is free. Each two-pack is similarly priced, white polo shirts cost £3, grey skirts cost £7, while a pair of skinny style trousers is £6. 


Marks & Spencer 

You could be forgiven for thinking that given its food prices, this retailer is not going to be kind to your bank balance. Think again. You can order online or order and buy in store. Trousers start at £5.60, polo shirts start from £2.40, skirts costs from £4.80 and a two-pack of white shirts is £6.40. 



The fashion retailer might not be your first thought when it comes to schoolwear but it boasts 4,000 items to choose from with sweatshirts from £6, skirts £5, trousers £8 and a two polo shirts from £7. Next also has a selection of socks and sports gear. Delivery charges are a bit steeper, starting at £4.95. 



You can check out what uniform Peacocks has online and better still, it will be delivered to your home for free. Trousers start from £6, skirts cost £5 and two polo shirts are £6. 


Uniform recycling 

At Upton Primary School near Pontefract, Head Teacher Lynne Williamson encourages parents to send in anything that their children have outgrown at the end of each half term. The items are then washed and put into a uniform exchange event organised by the Year 6 children. Everything is free. 

Lynne said: “Initially there was a bit of reluctance to make use of the exchange, but we got a group of Key Stage 2 to do a project on fast-fashion and the benefits to the environment of re-using uniform and it really changed people’s attitudes.”

With 10,000 items of clothing sent to landfill every five minutes, the equivalent of £140 million in value annually, alternatives like this are making more and more sense for clothes quickly out grown. Ask if your kids’ school is doing a similar scheme.


Charity shops 

The high street is littered with charity shops these days so why not make an event of having a rummage around looking for some stylish items from jackets to shoes, shirts and jumpers. Mindful that schools are going back, the shops will often have seasonal displays in the summer. 



Check out website like Oldschooluniform.co.uk if you want to keep your second-hand buying to yourself.  Founded by concerned parents, you can buy items by school name for much reduced prices or even free on this website. If you can’t find what you are looking for, place a notice describing what you need and it’s very likely you’ll be contacted, according to founder Andrea Grant. In addition, parents who have second-hand items to sell can advertise on the site for free. 

Alternatively, you might want to try selling some of your family’s old school uniforms on a site like Vinted. That way you can make a bit of money to put towards either a new item of clothing; they also sell schoolwear on the site. It’s easy to use and look through once you have the app, and the money you earn can be sent straight to your bank account. 

Gumtree or Facebook’s Market Place are also worth checking if you need particular items of sports equipment like football boots. 

There are plenty of websites out there offering uniforms so have a check around and compare prices. It’s worth shopping around from the comfort of your armchair to see what’s out there because a little bit of research could save you pounds.

We are also big fans of the website YoungPlanet, where people upload stuff for free and you can request your needs and people can offer you theirs. Much like Olio or other resharing apps, they can be an absolute godsend for school stuff.


In England, some local authorities provide discretionary grants to help those struggling financially to meet the costs of buying school uniforms. Check out your local authority website or give them a call to see if you are eligible. 

Sometimes schools or trusts run their own schemes to offer help where needed but depends on individual schools.   

From time to time parents are required to buy branded clothing which is always more expensive so head teachers are advised to keep the use of these to a minimum and limit it to long-lasting or low-cost items. 

There are loads of options out there to suit every pocket, so shop around and enjoy the last days of the holidays with your family. 

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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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