Getting Ready for School - Part 1 What do you need to get?

With M starting school in September I realised I needed some help to get ready so I asked Lauren from Mummy is a Gadget Geek for help. Mum of 3 Lauren's oldest is in Year 2 and her middliest just completing reception. Over the course of 2 blog posts she answers my questions on everything from when and where to buy uniform to how to get M ready for school, what happens if you are late for school and things to consider as a working mum. Most state schools operate in the same way so her advice and tips should help anyone who is about to become a school mum/ dad.

A image of school uniform for a boy and girl ready to wear on a bed with the caption "starting school soon? What to get for your child"

When do you buy uniform/shoes ?

In my experience, for generic uniform bits you should buy it as soon as you see it. Supermarkets tend do put it out early in the summer holidays and the popular sizes (age 4-7) seem to sell really quickly. If you want to buy specific logo items, you can wait til the last minute as reception children often start later than everyone else - going into the uniform shop once everyone else is already in school will make for a much quieter, pleasant experience. Alternatively, make sure you book an appointment with the uniform shop if you want to go earlier. In terms of summer uniform, it's worth looking out bargains in the sales this summer to put by for the summer term next year. 

Shoes are trickier as kid's feet can sometimes grow quickly, if you get them too early they might not fit but leaving it too late means potentially very little choice and a stressful day in a shoe shop. We tend to get them measured the third week in August and then order online. Booking an appointment with whichever shoe shop you are using can also work well. Additionally, I buy a pair of cheaper backup black shoes because inevitably at some point they will lose them / get them soaking wet / step in something filthy. 

What uniform do you need to buy?

The school will give you a list, but generally speaking:

7 polo shirts, 5 pinafore dresses/skirts or trousers,  5 cardigans, sweatshirts or jumpers, 10 pairs of matching socks (if you get a lot in one go then when some inevitably go missing at least you still have a lot of pairs left. Otherwise even really plain grey or white socks can irritatingly be very different when you buy more - longer or made from different material so they don't quite match!). 5 pairs of tights for girls. Basically, enough uniform for a week without needing to wash anything, although you can get away with slightly less if you want to. 

Summer uniform is summer dresses (3-5 of those) or shorts (3 pairs) - summer uniforms don't get used as much so if you buy a size up you can use them for two years (make sure you get adjustable waist shorts though). It may also be worth getting a couple of extra polo shirts for boys, as once they don't have a jumper covering them up they get dirty a lot more quickly. 

PE kit in most schools tends to be a pair of sports shorts, a t shirt (yellow for our school, which is different to the school uniform colour) and plimsolls. You can also choose to provide trainers and jogging bottoms for outdoor PE in the colder weather if you want but that is not compulsory.

What about coats/ hair bands do they need to be school coloured? 

Coats and hair bands for our school don't need to be school colours, and in fact having a unique coat can really help you to pick out your child in a crowded playground. D always stands out in her 'space coat'! Hairbands in the school colour are popular and easy to come by, but as long as hair is tied back (and be prepared for regular 'nits letters' emphasising this) the school aren't too fussed what colour you use. 

Anything else they need? Eg stationery/ name tags

Our school provides all stationery and equipment. They do expect you to get:
A book bag in the school colour
A school PE bag
A water bottle for your child to use for drinks during the day

Our school sells all of these from the school office, you can go at any point during school hours and ask to buy them (which means you need to get them before the school closes for the holidays, something I didn't realise first time round).

A boy taking part in a running race on sports day
Sports Day

How much does that all cost?

From memory it's £5 for the book bag, £3.50 for the PE bag, and £1 for the water bottle. You can also choose to get generic ones in the school colours from elsewhere if you want (the water bottle can be any colour) but to be honest I think they are pretty reasonably priced from the school anyway. 

Uniforms vary massively in price dependent on where you decide to buy them. The official logo tops - polo shirts, sweatshirts, cardigans and PE t shirt - can be bought from the local school uniform shop  and are fairly expensive (I think the sweater was about £13...). Our school now has logo uniform available to buy online from Tesco which are better value. We have just one logo top for each child, for first day and school photo type occasions! They also tend to go 'missing' a bit more often too as they are more covetable. The PE kit is more reasonably priced at about £3.50 an item. (We get plimsolls from Sainsburys though, they are very cheap and fit well).

Most supermarkets and large high street clothing or department stores will also sell uniform in the generic few colours. We get trousers, dresses and skirts from M&S, Next or Sainsburys as they last well and wash easily (somewhere between £6 and £9 each). You can get them a bit cheaper elsewhere but as the kids tend to wear them til they outgrow them I like to make sure they are good quality. Dresses with zips rather than buttons seem to work better for reception age, and trousers with an easy close metal tab rather than buttons are good too. And adjustable waists for skirts and trousers! Keep an eye out for when Sainsburys and M&S do there clothing discount events and get the uniform then to save more money.

Polo shirts we get from ALDI when they have them in, otherwise Tesco or Sainsburys - all very cheap although ALDI wins with 2 shirts for £1.50 I think! The best we've found for sweatshirts and cardigans is Sainsburys (2 for £4), although when I've not been able to get the right size there we get them from Next (£6 for 1). Socks and tights are from Tesco or Sainsburys and work out about £1 a pair. 

Summer dresses we get from whichever supermarket I see them in (usually around £4), and shorts from ALDI (£3 I think?). The main criteria now for dresses is apparently what charm is hanging off the zipper (D loves the ones with hearts or butterflies). 

Also, invest in an easy method of putting your child's name in all this stuff. We use Stamptastic which is quick and easy and has saved us a lot of money in misplaced-but-returned uniform! (Edit from Kate: I love label stickers like these from My Name Tag)

Part 2 - Getting me and my child ready
Part 3 - Advice from other mums 


  1. Wow. That's just mind boggling when you see it all in one spot like that. Can you buy some sanity to go with it?

    1. I lost my sanity a long time ago, I find life is better without it


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