THE ULTIMATEBACK TO SCHOOLCHECKLIST
New school term on the horizon? No problem. From the best multi-pack shirts to the smartest skirts, we’ve got everything you and your child need to get things off to a good start
Squeaky new shoes and the smell of fresh stationery: few moments are so evocative as the beginning of the school term. This year, alongside more sustainable schoolwear (including the introduction of Birla viscose, a soft biodegradable fibre made of wood pulp) and lots of innovations to make your life easier, we have a bigger and better selection of all the fun bits: school bags, lunch boxes, pencil cases and water bottles. As ever, we also offer school specific uniforms so you can find everything you require in one shop. Below is the definitive guide to what you need to buy. We hope you find it helpful.
That first term can be a daunting prospect for kids and parents alike. But it needn’t be. With a bit of forward planning and a few deep breaths, this exciting new chapter can be the fun, momentous event it should be. First things first, though: read and re-read the school’s uniform policy. Ask parents with children already at the school for tips and tricks. Do they start autumn term in summer uniform? Can reception pupils wear polo shirts rather than formal school shirts? Do they need a tie to begin with? Plimsolls or proper trainers? Rucksack or folder? If you’re shopping for a uniform for the first time, as a general rule, go for two or three trousers/skirts and three to five shirts. Once you’ve got those essentials sorted, you’ll all feel a lot more confident.
Once the kids are already settled into school life, the big back-to-school shop is usually just a case of filling in the gaps where they have outgrown things. Be strategic about it, though. Lay out all the uniform you have. Put things into piles – one for items that are too small (to be handed-down/given away) and one for items that still fit (though you should check again at the end of the summer). Once you’ve established what you need, stock up on those items and add in that all-important new school coat.
Once your kids have reached secondary school, they seem to grow faster than ever. Some items like blazers and sweaters might last them into autumn if you’re lucky but it’s likely you’ll have to stock up on new shirts, skirts and trousers during the summer months in time for the new term. John Lewis’ two-pack easy care shirts will save you time and stress and could mean a crucial extra 10 minutes in bed for those hard-to-wake teens.
It’s easy to overlook the all-important PE kit but get this right and everyone will be happy come those soggy autumn days on the school field. Refer again to the school uniform policy. Some schools have different sports uniforms for infants and juniors, and by the time you get to secondary school, they may need more specialist kit for niche sports. Our suits-all sports shorts, polo shirts and joggers are good foundation pieces. Hold off on buying trainers for girls and boys until mid-August – it’s amazing how quickly kids’ feet can grow over the summer months.
School shoes are the one item you should hold off until as close as possible to the start of term to maximise your chance of getting a size that will see them through the whole school year. Aim to either pop into store with the kids for a shoe fitting appointment or measure your child’s feet at home about three weeks before the beginning of term (leave it too late and many sizes will have sold out). Always ensure your child tries on lots of styles to ensure they are both comfortable and tick their style requirements. Well-fitted stylish shoes they feel proud of will save a lot of discomfort and angst later.
It’s easy to overlook the trimmings such as hair accessories in the right colours, but get these sorted now and it will save last-minute panic buying come late August. Also, ensure you have the socks, tights and underwear ordered and in place so you have a few less things to worry about. Then you can concentrate on supporting your child during those crucial first days back at school.
Now for the fun bit. All those essentials that allow kids to stamp their own style on school life. You’ve done the hard slog with the uniform, now let them have some fun selecting the rest. From pencil cases and pens (see our guide to the best stationery) to notebooks and water bottles, they are free to express themselves however they wish. Now all that’s left is to add those all-important school labels – sew or iron them in if you have time, if not there’s always the trusty name marker pen. Either way, job done. Happy new term!