Back to School Guide 2021

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Schooling in 2020/21 was a bust. It was so disjointed with school closures, remote learning, COVID bubbles and children sent home for self-isolation that children’s education suffered. Hopefully the 2021/2022 school year will be much better and will see children get back to a more familiar normality, being able to concentrate on their schoolwork better and progress their education significantly.

Even the summer holidays were not the same this year. With foreign holidays not as straightforward as they once were with countries on red, amber and green lists and COVID tests required before going and then again on return, a lot of children and families have missed out again this year. A lot more people may have had their summer holiday within the UK this year or just had days short breaks or days out. So with weeks of having to listen to the kids complaining of being bored and having nothing to do (despite having plenty of toys, games and craft items in the house as well as bicycles, scooters, trampoline and other outdoor toys) it is time to start that final countdown and start assembling everything the kids will need for the new school year. It is time to start getting those Back to School items before the manic rush starts and everything becomes harder to get (especially that expensive school uniform).

With the summer holidays now coming towards their end (we can’t believe that we have already finished four weeks of the six already) it is time for parents and carers to start preparing for the start of the new school year in September (although the first week back may be disrupted or even delayed due the government wanting twice weekly COVID tests within schools).

Preparing to go back to school is a stressful time, and that’s just for the parents, with having to remember everything they need, especially if they’re moving up to high school. Trying to stick to a budget whilst still getting quality items that will last longer than five minutes can be quite a challenge!

School uniform is first and foremost on anyone’s school shopping list. But as all parents / carers know, it isn’t just new uniforms that need sourcing and buying, but all the paraphernalia that goes with it. Uniforms are obviously the most important part, and the most expensive, but it’s not just the shoes, shirts, ties and blazers you need to buy, you will also need bags, coats, P.E. kits, stationery, travel passes and more. Laws on school uniform costs are changing to try and reduce costs but unfortunately not in time for the start of this new school year (for more information click here).

At Our Family Reviews we have put together a small, albeit not exhaustive list, of some the items of clothing (uniform and PE kit) that you may need to buy before the new academic year starts.

School Uniform

  • Trousers / Pinafores / Skirts (and belt if needed)
  • Shirts / Polo Shirts
  • Jumpers / Cardigans
  • School Tie (if your school requires one)
  • School Blazer (if your school requires one)
  • Socks / Tights
  • Shoes – we like the look of the Treads Shoes as they claim to be indestructible (and from our experience of using them last year, they really are up to the job). Unfortunately since writing this article they seem to have ceased trading.
  • Coats (lightweight foldable / winter coat)
  • Hat and Gloves
  • Wellies

PE Kit

  • Shorts / Skorts
  • T-shirt
  • Socks
  • Pumps (indoor use)
  • Trainers (outdoor use)
  • Track suit
  • Swimming kit
  • Kit/Gym bag

With all new school clothing, don’t forget to label it all. If you label it and they misplace a bit, there is a good chance you will get it back, but if you don’t label it and they misplace a bit, the likelihood is that you will never see it again as no one would know who it belonged to and you might have to spend another small fortune replacing bits (especially if your school insist on very expensive branded items). Labelling items of clothing is time consuming but isn’t that difficult, and there are a number of ways to do it: You can write names in with a pen, use name stampers or even have printed name labels that either stick on or iron on.

As with any school uniform, always check with your school if the uniform has to be branded with logos or if you can buy generic items in the correct colours (school websites will have their uniform rules on it). If branded items are required, check if your school sell sew on patches as this will save a fortune over buying branded jumpers etc. It’s also worth checking if your school is part of a uniform exchange, which can save a fortune if you’re lucky enough to be in an area that has one.

Now that you have purchased all your school uniform, including the PE kit, labelled it all and think you are ready for the start of school, you still can’t relax as there is still lots more to buy.


  • Backpack / bookbags
  • Lunch box or bag
  • Water bottle


  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Pencil case
  • Lined paper / notepads
  • Coloured markers
  • Calculator
  • Geometry set
  • Highlighters
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Ruler
  • Eraser
  • Folders

And if your child is at high school or just starting high school, the amount of homework and projects is going to increase, so you might also want to look at getting some more expensive tech items to help with these:


  • Laptop / Computer
  • Printer
  • Scanner

Whilst this is not an exhaustive list / full list of everything that you need, and there will even be things on it that you probably don’t need, we hope this list helps you in some small way of getting all the items that your child needs before the new academic year starts. If your school does not require all items of clothing to be branded, then check out the supermarket offerings, they do offer uniforms at very good prices, and at a very good quality. If your school offers the option of sew-on or iron-on badges, then we recommend getting these as they can save a small fortune over buying proper branded items.

Whilst purchasing the new uniform and shoes is the priority, make sure that you do invest a bit of time and label all items you have purchased. Uniforms and all the accessories can be quite expensive, you really do want to minimise having to replace items as little as possible (fingers crossed, none of it) – kids have a habit of putting things down and forgetting where they put it! While labelling it all will not guarantee it won’t be lost, if it is, you have a much better chance of getting it back.

And now that you have purchased all the uniform and any accessories required, don’t forget the HAIRCUTS! After all, new uniform and accessories deserve a nice and tidy haircut for those first day back at school photos (and do check the school websites for acceptable styles and cuts otherwise that first day back might not go as well as you hoped).

And finally, don’t forget to purchase any travel passes: school bus passes, public bus passes or train passes (do look at the Educational Season Passes if your train operator offer them and your school is signed up to the scheme).

We know that going back to school will be stressful for everyone involved, but if you plan ahead, you can reduce any stress and make your life just that little bit easier.

Good luck with your back to school preparations, we hope that the first day back / first day at a new school goes really well.

If we have missed anything essential off, please do leave a comment below and let us know.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here