The typical cost of going back to school? £400

Iona Bain

Parents will fork out as much as £400 for uniform, stationery, textbooks and computers when their kids return to school this Autumn, research has found.

The majority – 60 per cent – of 1000 parents surveyed by said that a new term presented a “financial burden” on their household budget.

More than half, 51 per cent, also admitted to spending more than they could afford on expensive uniforms and must-have items for their children in order to keep up appearances at the school gate.

The research also found the cost of attending school has been significantly bumped up by an increasingly digital approach to education. Nearly half of the parents with older children say they have had to invest in a computer, laptop or tablet due to requirements laid down by the school.

Around a third of the poorest children in the UK are thought to have little or no access to personal computing, with charities now raising the alarm about the ‘digital divide’ that is holding back disadvantaged pupils.

Y Money Y will be exploring the digital divide in more depth in the months to come, but here are some provisional tips if you’re worried about the cost of fancy tech for your child:

  • Go Refurbished – refurbished laptops are often simply unopened or unused returns, with the only signs of usage being a broken seal on the box and they are resold at competitive prices. Consider these options before parting with a lump sum of cash for something you could have paid half the price for.
  • Recycle – parents could always consider buying second hand text books, or even uniform from other parents at the same school whose child may have left. Not all second hand items will be well worn or damaged, they might be brand new but just not needed anymore.
  • Selling On – parents could even sell on your child’s old text books or uniform to make a bit of extra cash to put towards the new necessities, as long as they are in good condition – why not set up a sell, swap or share group at the child’s school?
  • Be Prepared – if a child is going to need a whole new uniform or a new computer for the next school year, parents could plan to set a bit of money aside each month to soften the blow when August comes around. Or, why not spread the cost – stationery one month, blazer the next.


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