Costs for back-to-school basics shoot up

26 August 2011

Parents with children returning to school in September will pay on average £77 per child on back-to-school basics, with the cost for children at secondary school hitting £81.

This includes school uniform, stationery, sports kit, a school bag and a new hair cut, according to research from LV=.

The total amount parents will pay on sending children back to school has risen by £27 million since last year, with the cost per family now at £125 compared with £122 in 2010.

To deal with these rising costs more than half of UK parents are planning on buying discount school uniforms from a supermarket, and 31% are considering cutting back on after-school activities like dancing or music lessons.

Read: Tesco launches cheapest school uniform

One in five parents is also considering travelling by public transport or foot instead of driving their kids to school.

Rising costs

Geographically, parents in Scotland spend the most at this time of year, while the cheapest place to send children back to school is the East Midlands.

The total cost of raising a child until they turn 21 is now more than £210,000 and the cost of education (not including private school fees) and after childcare it is the second biggest expenditure, costing parents £55,660 over a child's lifetime.

Mark Jones, spokesperson at LV=, says: "Parents are under a great deal of pressure to spend significant amounts on kitting their kids with the latest bags and coats and brand new uniforms and stationery. Although we can see that parents are attempting to be frugal, these costs seem to keep going up."

How to cut the cost of going back to school

School uniform

The supermarkets have entered a school uniform pricing war giving you the chance to save money when kitting out your child. Tesco offers a coat, three shirts and a pair of trousers or skirt for children aged three to 16 for £15. If you buy online, you can also get free delivery and £10 off when you spend £40 or more.

At Asda you can get two shirts, a pair of trousers or skirt and a jumper for £7 (age three to 10), while Sainsbury's is offering a jumper, two polo shirts and a pair of trousers or skirt for £6 – but this only applies to children aged up to five and the prices begin to rise for older children.

It's also worth checking your local charity shop as most have dedicated school uniform sections for local schools.

After-school activities

Dancing, sports or music – whatever your child is into, it will cost money sending them to extra curricular classes. Most local councils will offer cheaper classes than going privately and your child's school should also organise these activities at a discounted rate. To check what your local council is offering visit its website.


Getting the school bus or walking will be a lot cheaper than driving your child to school everyday. If this is not practical speak to parents in your local area and organise a car pool group. The website will give you details about car pools that already exist in your local area.


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