We Need To Talk About the Cost of School Uniform

Close-up of school uniform and bag hanging on yellow door

I think it’s important to say I am not against school uniform. I like the fact that everyone is the same, it saves worrying about their normal clothes getting damaged and there is a practicality to it. But I strongly believe the cost of uniform should to be reasonable and affordable.

I had been warned that the cost of secondary school uniform was high, I was prepared for it, but I was not prepared for just how high! Looking at the cost, which I have listed below for you, I am aghast. In addition, my son’s school has introduced a brand new uniform starting with this year’s year 7, so there is no option to purchase second-hand uniform to reduce costs either.

Below is all of the costs of what I have spent to get my son ready to start secondary school this year.

Break Down of the Cost of Secondary School Uniform

First is the uniform purchased from the school uniform shop, who have a captive market and are the only place you can purchase this uniform from. Their customer service has also been utterly appalling.

  • Blazer (the blazer has a blue edging so we are unable to buy a generic and sew on a school badge) £42.50
  • Tie £7.50
  • Jumpers x 2 £42.00
  • PE shorts (compulsory embroidered with school logo) £17.50
  • PE polo top (compulsory embroidered with school logo) £22.50
  • Sports socks navy x 2 £13.00
  • PE Jumper (not compulsory but it felt unkind to not have it for the winter) £27.00
  • PE trousers (not compulsory but it felt unkind to not have them for the winter) £29.50
  • Sub total £201.50

Generic Uniform Ordered from M%S with 20% off or Amazon

  • Grey school trousers (4 pairs, would have bought 3 pairs but only had two packs in his size) £30.00
  • School shirts (6 also bought in 2 packs) £36.00
  • EverydaySocks £7.00
  • White sports socks (no idea why they need two colours of sports socks but they’re compulsory) £10.99
  • Sub Total £83.99


  • School Bag £39.99
  • School Shoes £39.99
  • Trainers (buy one get one half price with school shoes) £17.50
  • New Coat (he already has one that fits but it had to be in a dark colour) £34.99
  • Stationery Pack (from school shop with a scientific calculator) £16.50
  • Locker fee (cost per year) £20
  • Gum shield (if he ends up playing a lot of contact sports I will get him a better one) £3.00
  • Sub Total £171.91

TOTAL COST £457.40

School have also asked for astro turf shoes and shin pads, I am not buying these until I am absolutely sure they are needed and will be used.

We Need to Make Costs More Affordable

Nearly £500, how is this acceptable?

We are in a terrible cost-of-living crisis, and a 37% increase of people using foodbank last year. How are families supposed to be able to afford this? And how is this morally ok? If the purpose of uniforms is to reduce bullying and have everyone look the same, why does it need to have so many elements?

Let’s start with blazers and ties, how many jobs now do you truly have to wear these for? So why are we making our children wear them? Straight away that would reduce my bill by nearly £50. It also makes uniform more accessible for SEN children and those with sensory processing problems.

Why does it have to be shirts and trousers, why don’t we continue to have polo shirts, trousers and jumpers like we do in primary school? It works perfectly well for them?

Why on earth does everything have to be branded and embroidered? It gives uniform shops a monopoly and enables them to charge incredible prices. In 2021 the government issued guidance that school uniforms should be non-branded to make it more affordable for parents, more competitive pricing and to prevent hardship. So why is this still happening?

Why do coats have to be a dark colour, when safety tests have shown children are less safe walking in the dark in dark-coloured clothing? Especially when my son already had a red coat that would have done the job perfectly well?

Why can’t we make children wear plain navy and black tracksuits with a generic t-shirt for PE, it will still do the job?

It’s grandiose and unnecessary. Schools are over-obsessed with the appearance of the children, rather than making it accessible for all. I actually cannot remember the last time I wore a shirt and tie, and I have a successful professional career and I think my husband only wears them for funerals now, and he is in a senior managerial role. This is not preparing children for the world of work, this is about appearances. I have absolutely no idea how parents of twins and multiples manage and in 2023. Tt’s about time these archaic policies (don’t get me started in having to ask permission to take your blazer off) are changed. Families should not be getting into debt in order to send their children to school.

3 thoughts on “We Need To Talk About the Cost of School Uniform”

  1. I used to think Primary school uniform was expensive until my girls got to secondary school.
    Your son’s school uniform is expensive. I know I only paid about £4 for a tie a couple of years ago and £20 for the PE hoodie. Good on you for not buying the astro turf shoes and shin pads until you know they are needed. There were lists from my girls school with things I bought and they never used once!!
    I don’t get how schools can let this happen with the cost of uniforms when some parents can’t even afford to feed their kids. x

  2. For us it’s the PE kit that’s the expensive one. Everything has to come from the shop even though most of it just has a little silver detail (bottom half) so could be plain black. I can understand t shirt being school logo due to team matches (and ours wear PE kit for teios sometimes for ease of seeing their kids over others) but the shorts and joggers could be plain black. Especially as I spent £20 on ill-fitting, awful style and material that he will likely never wear. We also bought a compulsory multisports tight rugby long sleeved top – never worn. So that’s £40 wasted for the 2.

    I bought the next size up before y7 tocheck size, kept them for when he grows. But they’ve now changed supplier so I’m hoping he’ll still be ok to wear though when he grows.

    Thankfully our uniform itself is not too bad.under £30 for blazer, tie (although they’re silly clip on and he’s lost/broken 2 in one year. The rest is generic. He has astro/football boots and trainers anyway for football. But it’s all the spares that costs. He’s lost one shirt (he swore it was nicked), had a pocket ripped off another by a kid doing it to everyone, and the shirt was wrecked. Then 2 have been ruined with paint (on a science desk he leant against) and a mystery pen blob on the back. So 4 M&S shirts in 1 year, w ties, and a pair of lost sports socks. Sigh. Primary – nothing was wrecked or lost in 7 years!

  3. That is so expensive!

    What also baffles me for Primary School uniforms at least, is that you can only purchase them from one shop. Which means no competition so no offers or reductions in price happen because they know everyone can only buy from them.

    Worst thing is kids either loose their uniform or they grow so fast they don’t fit in them midway through the year.



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