Back to School Guide

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The long summer school holidays will soon be coming to an end, and what a summer it was with some very too hot days, reaching over 40° in the UK – who would have thought it! Now that you have weeks of listening to the kids out in the garden playing and soaking up the sun or even having them indoors complaining of the heat, it is time to start thinking about going back to school for the start of a new academic year and even starting new schools for some.

Preparing to go back to school is a stressful time, and that’s just for the parents. But it is also a time to refresh tired uniforms and school equipment and so can be exciting as well. Having to remember and source everything they need, especially if they’re moving up to high school and trying to stick to a budget, especially with a cost of living crisis at the moment, whilst still getting quality items that will last longer than five minutes can be quite a challenge!

Whilst parents and carers will be stressing over the expense and being able to source everything without paying over the odds whilst sticking to school uniform policies, children will be getting nervous and excited thinking about seeing all their old friends and making new ones, the new subjects they will be taking on and all the new things to learn.

When it comes to going back to school, school uniform is the first thing on any parent or carers mind, not only seeing what the kids have that still fits and is useable but the time and expense of replacing anything that they need. Make sure you check your school’s website for their uniform policy as some can be quite strict and falling foul of it can be costly, not only in terms of money but time and lost education. Laws and guidance on school uniform costs are changing from September 2022 (although loopholes may see some schools not put this into effect until September 2023) to try and reduce costs for families by limiting the use of branded items, you can read more here. (The Children’s Society reported in 2020 that they average cost of school uniform was over £300).

Once all the uniform is purchased the cost doesn’t end there. Then there is 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.

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 (click here to download a printable list). Remember to check the school website for uniform policy, it will tell you what you need and in what colours as well as information regarding logos, length, dress code policy and recommended equipment needed.

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 / Wellies
  • Coats (lightweight foldable / heavier winter coat)
  • Hat and Gloves

PE Kit

  • Shorts / Skorts
  • T-shirt
  • Socks
  • Plimsolls (indoor use)
  • Trainers (outdoor use)
  • Track suit / sports leggings
  • Swimming kit (trunks / swimsuit / towel / goggles)
  • Kit/Gym bag

With all the new school uniform purchased, don’t forget to label it all. If you label it and the children 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. And if you can, try to purchase easy-iron items – it will save you loads of time each weekend by reducing the amount of clothing that needs ironing.

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 – accessories (not jewellery, pens and stationery, lunch boxes etc.).


  • Backpack / school bag
  • Bookbag (if needed it is usually sold by the school)
  • Lunch box / lunch bag
  • Water bottle


  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Pencil case
  • Lined paper / notepads
  • Coloured markers
  • Calculator (your school may suggest what brand and model)
  • 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 or full list of everything that you might 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, it’s nearly time to relax, just don’t forget the HAIRCUTS! After all, new uniform and accessories deserve a nice and tidy haircut for that 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 – yes, some schools have policies regarding hairstyles).

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 – you can save quite a bit of money over regular fares and they can even be used in school holidays).

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. And do check out our reviews of some great educational items that we have used with our own family to assist them in their education.


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