We've also compared prices to last year to see how the retailers have tackled the rising cost of living.
So how did each school uniform rank for 2022?
We asked parents to rate, out of 10, the key criteria of Fit, Washing, Quality, and Worth the Money, to create a list of the top ranking school uniform retailers for 2022.
|Brand||Fit||Washing||Quality||Worth the money||Average|
|George at Asda||8.06||7.91||8.03||8.55||8.15|
|Tu at Sainsburys||8.37||8.38||8.39||8.37||8.38|
|F+F at Tesco||8.1||8.1||8.08||8.19||8.13|
|Nutmeg at Morrisons||8.14||7.99||8.03||8.11||8.08|
|John Lewis (Standard)||8.37||8.41||8.57||7.9||8.33|
|John Lewis ANYDAY||8.2||8.2||8.35||7.79||8.13|
On the back of these results, hundreds of comments from our families, and the difference in price between high street and supermarket school uniforms, we have chosen to highlight 3 retailers as category winners for 2022:
Best High Street School Uniform: Marks & Spencer
M&S scored the highest ratings for Fit, Wash and Quality. It is one of the most expensive uniforms that we tested, but it scored better than other high street stores with similar prices.
Best Supermarket School Uniform: Tu at Sainsburys
Supermarkets offer a range of prices for their uniforms, and while Sainsbury's ranked highest for supermarket prices, it also fared exceptionally well for all of our criteria, coming close to the more expensive high street uniforms.
Best Value School Uniform: George at Asda
There was one clear winner when it came to Best Value – George at Asda uniform ranked higher overall compared with several more expensive supermarkets as well as the discount supermarkets such as Aldi.
Jump to see our detailed verdicts on:
- Tu at Sainsbury's
- George at Asda
- John Lewis ANYDAY
- F+F at Tesco
- Nutmeg at Morrisons
- John Lewis – Standard
How much does a school uniform cost in 2022?
In our survey of 709 parents of school-aged children, almost 20% estimated they spent over £100 on school uniform when their child started a new school, with a further 50% estimating a spend between £25 and £75. Special items like sweatshirts and polo shirts printed or embroidered with school logos often push costs up, as do specific requirements for PE kit, shoes or outerwear.
New government guidance on uniform costs
The spiralling costs of school uniform is something the government is all too aware of. In November 2021 the Department For Education (DoE) released "new rules to drive down cost of school uniform for families". A 3,000+ word DoE document outlines in full what schools should be aiming to achieve when it comes to offering affordable school uniform. This information takes the form of Statutory Guidance, meaning schools must follow it unless they have a strong reason why they cannot.
Branded logos - your bugbear
One key element of this new guidance is that schools should keep the use of branded items to a minimum. We know from speaking to parents that this is one of the biggest bugbears when it comes to uniform, with endless items – from polo shirts to PE hoodies – having to bear a school badge. The new guidance states, "Where a school decides that a branded item is required, they should consider how they can maintain the benefits of a branded item whilst keeping costs low. This may involve using sew or iron on labels or limiting the branded items to longer-lasting items such as ties rather than items that the parent may need to purchase more frequently or in larger quantities such as shirts."
We're pleased to say, for the first time, we're starting to hear stories of some schools creating badges/logos that can be attached by sewing or ironing.
The guidance also requires schools to publicise their uniform policies clearly, provide access to second hand uniforms and avoid single supplier contracts where possible, all while giving "the highest priority to cost and value for money (including the quality and durability of the garment)."
However, the government doesn't state specifically what "affordable" means. There is no maximum price limit for any items of uniform, for example. Therefore, it comes down to decisions by the school and its governors. Anecdotal evidence from parents we've spoken to this year suggests some schools are taking this guidance on board in a big way, but others are not.
How we calculated the average cost of tested uniforms
For those schools that do allow the majority of uniform to be purchased from a mass retailer, we have calculated the average cost of a single uniform from all the retailers we surveyed and tested. Uniforms get more expensive as your child gets older and bigger, so to ensure we're giving a fair comparison we've identified the price of each brand’s most affordable version of the following items to fit a boy age 7, comprising:
- 1 short-sleeved polo shirt
- 1 knitted jumper
- 1 pair of regular fit trousers
- 1 pair of dark coloured ankle socks
Most retailers sell these items in multipacks and/or bundles, and the bigger the bundle, the better the value (eg. a 5- or 7-pack of polo shirts). In order to do a straight comparison we have calculated the individual cost of one item from the best value multipack or bundle available in store.
We have also included the total costs we observed during our 2021 school uniform survey, to show how prices have changed in the last 12 months.
|Brand||Polo||Jumper||Trousers||Socks||Total 2022||Total 2021||Price +/-|
|Nutmeg at Morrisons||£1.60||£3.50*||£4.50||50p||£10.10||£8.56||+£1.54|
|Tu at Sainsburys||£2||£4.50||£4.50||90p||£11.90||£10.70||+£1.20|
|George at Asda||£1.70||£4||£4||70p||£10.40||£9.30||+£1.10|
|John Lewis ANYDAY||£3||£6.50||£6.50||£1.14||£17.14||£21.64||-£4.50|
|F+F at Tesco||£1.30||£6||£3.50||50p||£11.30||£9.45||+£1.85|
|John Lewis (Standard)||£4.50||£10||£11||£2||£27.50||£27.50||No change|
*Price shown is for a sweatshirt, where knitted jumpers are not available.
Does more expensive mean better quality?
As our testing shows, it's not always the case that more expensive items of uniform perform better, some additional details may be worth paying for according to many parents.
- Polo shirts are a particular bugbear of many parents due to their tendency to shrink in the wash, and the fact they will often hold onto stains like paint, ink and grass. Premium polo shirts may be stain-resistant, making it easier to get food and dirt out on a cold wash.
- Trousers with reinforced knees were a big hit with the parents we spoke to: they may cost a little more at first but will last much longer.
- If your child is required to wear a shirt, look out for non-iron or easy-iron fabrics. This was the most important feature to the parents we surveyed, and useful for trousers, skirts and dresses too.
5 most important uniform features voted by parents
- Non-iron/easy iron
- Stain-resistant/fabric protection
- Adjustable waistband
- Crease resistant
- Easy to put on (zip-free/button-free)
Sustainability and unisex designs more important in 2022
Two other important uniform features stood out this year; perhaps neither surprising. Compared with 2021, 27% more parents chose sustainable fabrics as a top consideration and 36% more parents chose unisex designs as a priority this year.
What if my child has special needs?
A large number of our testers sang the praises of retailers that have considered children with special educational needs, sensory issues or conditions such as dyspraxia when developing their uniforms. M&S was the frontrunner in this area with its Easy Dressing range, and George at Asda was also praised for its Easy On Easy Wear range.
Many of the adaptive/SEN-friendly uniforms have practical adjustments or additions that may be useful for all children. Some things to look out for include:
- Mock button plackets on polos and shirts, with hidden velcro for an easier fit
- Easy-on trousers and skirts with elasticated waists and/or velcro
- Seamless socks and tights that can be better for children with high sensitivity to fabrics
- Items designed without scratchy labels at the neck or waist – information is printed or concealed inside pockets instead
- Summer dresses with velcro instead of buttons
- Trousers and shorts without back pockets or other distracting details
Can I get help to pay for school uniform?
In some parts of the country, school uniform grants are available to qualifying families. You can find out more and search for your council on the 'Get help with school uniform costs' page on the Gov.uk website.
– Best High Street School Uniform
Average overall score: 8.55
Availability: Very good, with plenty of stock in store and online, in a wide range of colours
Ease of care: Washes well, no shrinkage reported by our testers. Stains (including ketchup) came out easily
Sizing: Parents report the range tends to run a little large
Special features: Adjustable waists, 'grow-proof' hems, stain and weather repellent fabrics, Easy Dressing range
Marks & Spencer wins Best High Street School Uniform after scoring top marks in 3 of the 4 key criteria we surveyed, as well as the highest average score.
In our survey, parents did recognise that M&S is a more expensive option than supermarkets, but an overwhelming majority felt it was worth that extra expense as the items have longevity. "Excellent product, never shrinks, washes well and affordable. You get what you pay for," said one parent. Another said, "I can’t always afford to buy M&S but when I do stretch to it, I’m pleased I have."
With cost more of an issue than ever, M&S is one of only 2 retailers in our list that have found a way to reduce the overall cost of school uniform compared to last year. We were able to find a uniform online for £3.50 less than this time in 2021. The retailer also runs 20% off deals at certain points in the year, and members of the Sparks loyalty programme may be able to get vouchers to make savings too.
In terms of fit, M&S uniform is a great one for parents looking for clothes that'll last as long as possible as items like trousers come with 'grow-proof' hems that can be dropped down to add extra inches ("The adjustable hem is fab!" said one parent) as well as adjustable waists for a custom fit. Parent tester Bettyna, who tested the uniform with her 5-year-old daughter, did point out this doesn't extend to every item and said, "I wish the pinafore dress had adjustable elements."
"The trousers are crease resistant so I didn't need an iron even after washing, which is super convenient for parents," said parent tester Sam, who tested the uniform with her 8-year-old son."It's also stain resistant which is an added bonus. The jumper has a stay new formula which I love as jumpers are the usually part if the uniform that gets dull over repeated washes," she added.
The easy care of the items was a big hit, too. One parent from our survey said, "The uniform has lasted the whole year! Polos have been washed and washed and apart from boardpen marks (aagghhhh!!) have stayed white. Winter uniform has stayed smart even without ironing!"
M&S was also praised for the attention it pays to its SEN uniform. "Although M&S can be a bit more pricey, clothing from here is perfect for my autistic son," said one parent who took our survey.
Parent tester Janet tested items from the Easy Dressing range with her 10-year-old daughter. "Once she got over the joy of tights with no seam, she tried on the polo and again squealed with delight to find the buttons were actually fake and it did up with velcro. That's a huge win in this house!" They had less luck with the cardigan due to the ridged cuffs, but overall Janet was positive, saying "I've never purchased Marks & Spencer uniform before. I have definitely looked and been put off by the price. However, having had the opportunity to test it and run it through some school days I am very impressed."
In a nutshell: If you can justify the initial expense, M&S uniform performs really well over time and could work out more cost-effective in the long run. It's also a great option for children with SEN or sensory difficulties.
Buy it now: M&S School Uniform – also available at M&S stores nationwide
– Best Supermarket School Uniform
Average overall score: 8.38
Availability: Good stock online with different styles and cuts, in-store availability varies but click & collect service is available
Ease of care: Stains come out easily. Some shrinkage reported in polo shirts, and knitwear reportedly bobbles/fades over time
Sizing: Parents report it tends to run a little large in terms of length. A 'plus' fit is available
Special features: Waist adjusters, reinforced knees on trousers, sizes marked inside sock cuffs, girls items have novelty buttons and details
In the battle of the supermarkets, Sainsbury's Tu Clothing was victorious, with an overall score that secured Best Supermarket School Uniform. Although Sainsbury's is the most expensive supermarket for uniform, it was felt that the few extra pennies can be worth spending. "In today's society many people are struggling for money so cost-effective uniform is so needed – one that's going to last washing over and over again," said parent tester Natasha, whose 8-year-old daughter tested the uniform. "I would definitely say this uniform is perfect for that. I have tried various uniform through the years and this one meets my daughter's need for soft materials and enables her to feel good about herself. "
Parents were particularly complementary about the adjustable fit of school uniform from Sainsburys, and praised the girls' dresses as a real stand-out item. "The pleated pinafores wash very well with no need to iron which is always good," said one parent, while another loved the fact there's "always a wide range of different types of styles" including harder-to-find items such as culottes.
That said, they did flag the lack of availability in many stores, recommending the online click & collect service to get items sent directly to a Sainsbury's or Argos store. Another downside was the inevitable shrinkage on polo shirts, and some comments that the knitwear – jumpers and cardigans – fade and bobble faster than more expensive rivals.
As far as sizing goes, on the whole parents reported that the range tends to run a little large. One parent pointed out that "the polo shirts turned out to be longer in the body and more of a slim fit", making this a good option for tall, slim children. Another parent said, "My boy has been wearing the same 2 pairs of trousers and shorts all year and they still look good. There's also loads of room in the waist to let out the adjusters still."
Given the competitive price compared to the high street stores, Sainsbury's incorporates a lot of useful details into the range. Socks have the sizes printed inside the cuff, which is great if you have more than one child wearing more than one size. "I liked the reinforced knees on the trousers as my son is football mad and hopefully this pair will last me more than 3 months without getting holes in the knees," said parent tester Alexandra, whose 9-year-old son put the uniform through its paces.
Some of the girls' items have extra little details, which were divisive amongst parents. "My 8-year-old daughter loved the sequin on the pocket of the polo t-shirts in the shape of a flower. She also really liked the long grey socks with a love heart pattern so much so she has worn every day since (even non-school days), " said parent tester Natasha. However, another parent who took our survey felt these little additions didn't always help with practicality. "My only bugbear is the flower-shaped buttons on the cardigans – cute but my children and I find them difficult to use," they said.
In a nutshell: Well-priced uniform with lots of room to grow, easily available via click & collect. Useful details such as reinforced knees justify the extra cost vs other supermarket brands, but at this value price parents must expect some shrinkage and fading/bobbling with repeated washing.
Buy it now: Tu at Sainsburys school uniform – Also available at selected Sainsbury's stores nationwide
– Best Value School Uniform
Average overall score: 8.15
Availability: Good range available online and in larger Asda stores but some sizes do sell out quickly
Ease of care: No shrinkage reported by testers. Small stains came out, but tomato sauce wouldn't come out of a polo shirt
Sizing: Plus fit and longer lengths available
Special features: Easy On Easy Wear range, adjustable waistbands, some trousers have reinforced knees
Although the price of uniform at George has gone up a little bit this year, it's still one of the most competitively-priced supermarket uniforms, with a single uniform coming in at around the £10 mark. It pipped its rivals to the post in the "Worth the Money" category of our survey, meaning it scooped the win for Best Value School Uniform for 2022.
"Asda clothes are affordable, long lasting and durable," said one parent, echoing much of the feedback. Indeed, more parents gave feedback on their experiences with Asda uniform than any other, and it's clearly a popular buying choice.
Overall, the items were not felt to be the same quality as some of the more expensive ranges, but parents found them really good value for the money, with one saying "The price outweighs anything it falls short in."
"I was super impressed with the quality," said parent tester Jo, whose 6-year-old daughter tested the uniform for us. "We've never used Asda uniform before, but my partner and I both said this is where we'll be getting it from in future. The cardigans and t-shirts were super soft on arrival and were still really soft after being washed several times."
"I've been using Asda to buy school uniform for over 5 years and intend to carry on buying it because of quality and affordability," said another parent.
"Asda polos in particular wash well compared to some other retailers," said one parent, with another one agreeing, "They washed well and lasted longer than expected. I wash them after every wear so I got a good 7 months use out of them before the colour faded and they began to look tired."
Where the polo shirts don't perform so well is with stains, though, according to several parents. One of our child testers got pasta sauce down her top, and unfortunately it didn't come out in the wash.
The Easy on Easy Wear rage was popular with parents, with many of them singling out the velcro fastening on the polo shirts. The options for trousers also hit the mark, as one parent told us, "Asda is the only place I have found that do the soft feel trousers for my daughter who has sensory issues with clothing. The fit for her waist is great as she is very slim. The price is also very great for the quality."
"Asda has a longer leg range of trousers that works perfectly for my tall, long legged 6 year old," explained one parent. "They last the whole school year and wash very well."
In a nutshell: Popular, affordable and a wide range of options. Although items may not last as long as more premium brands, they're easily available in lots of sizes and colours and perform well for the money. There's also a good size range including Plus fit and longer lengths, and a SEN-friendly range.
Buy it now: George at Asda school uniform – also available at selected Asda stores
Average overall score: 8.38
Availability: Good availability online with next day delivery, in store varies. Lots of colours on offer
Ease of care: No shrinkage reported, some minor fading to knitwear, paint and sauce stains didn't come out of polo shirt
Sizing: Mixed feedback on sizing suggests it can vary between products. Slim fit and some Plus fit range available
Special features: Details including heart-shaped zip pulls on dresses, stain-repellent coating
"Next has a great range of styles for school uniform. It is always soft & really comfortable. It washes SO well & rarely needs ironing," said one parent, who referred to the retailer as their "go-to place to buy school uniform". In general parents found Next offers good quality uniform, and indeed it came runner up to M&S in a number of the key judging criteria. But the quality does come at a price, with Next uniform costing almost twice as much as most supermarkets.
But the quality is worth it. "The majority of this uniform is much better quality than comparable uniforms found in supermarkets," said parent tester Nyasha, who tested the uniform with her 5-year-old daughter. "The items feel like they are built to last and I feel I will be able to hand them down when my daughter outgrows them," she continues.
Laura, who tested the uniform with her 4-year-old son echoed this, saying, "I think this is a reasonable amount to spend and is a price I would be prepared to pay. While polo shirts can be bought at half the price from supermarket competitor, the trade-off is they're made from a thinner material."
However, Next polos weren't perfect. Although Laura was impressed by the thickness and quality of the polo shirts, the white ones she tested were no match for pasta sauce and paint stains. "Therefore I am sceptical on the ‘stain repellent coating’ claims; as this implies the stains should have come out in the first wash and not have taken multiple efforts," she explained.
Sizing is also a bit of a mixed bag at Next, with the parents we spoke to reporting a mix of feedback around overall fit, with some claiming the range runs big and others small. There are waist adjusters for more flexibility, however, and Next offers Slim and Plus fit options too. Laura tried the Plus fit trousers and said, "I was delighted that I didn’t need to ‘size up’ so my son could actually have an item of clothing with his real age on it."
One Next item that really impressed was socks, with a number of parents going out of their way to praise the brand for its soft, long-lasting offerings, which outperformed every other brand in our survey. "I have always shopped at Next for underwear and school socks for my son and tights and underwear for my daughter. The quality anywhere else has never matched," said one parent.
Availability from Next is generally good, and the website offers free next day delivery to your local store, so you can always be sure your size will be there when you arrive.
Buy it now: Next school uniform – Also available at most Next stores
Average overall score: 8.13
Availability: Good stock availability, but as this is a specific value range style options are limited
Ease of care: No shrinkage reported, stains washed out easily and items felt soft after washing
Sizing: Parents reported items generally felt true to size or a bit large
Special features: Adjustable waists, reinforced knees
John Lewis's ANYDAY range, which launched last year, has been created to offer the design you expect from John Lewis, but at a slightly more competitive price. A uniform from ANYDAY costs roughly the same as one from Marks & Spencer, and £10 less than John Lewis's standard range.
"I am really impressed with the quality of the uniform, although it's still a little expensive," said Wandana, who tested the uniform with her 5-year-old son. "He was so happy he didn't wanted to change into his usual clothes. We felt the uniform is perfect in size and looks very smart."
Wandana was also pleased with the wash qualtiy. "I found no shrinkage, but I would really like to comment on the softness after washing. I didn't add any extra fabric conditioner to the wash and only used my usual Ariel pods for the wash. But, after drying, the uniform still looked like new and very soft to the touch. I'm really impressed – usually I find the shirt material doesn't stay the same after washing."
Parent tester Alysia, on the other hand, was a little more critical. She tested the uniform with her 4-year-old daughter and felt the uniform was good quality and washed well, but also said "I didn't think the uniform was necessarily any better quality than other cheaper uniforms I've purchased. It was definitely more pricey and I don't think that you got much better for the extra cost." She compared the polo shirts to ones she'd bought from supermarkets, and though the John Lewis ANYDAY ones were thicker, she wasn't convinced they performed better.
ANYDAY trousers have reinforced knees and skirts, shorts and trousers all have adjustable waists. However, there are no special cuts such as slim fit, or style options, just a capsule range of basic uniform items, and few colours.
In a nutshell: A more affordable way to buy John Lewis uniform basics, with performance and price to rival Marks & Spencer. They wash well and have good elements such as reinforced knees and adjustable waists. However, style options are limited, as are colours.
Buy it now: John Lewis ANYDAY school uniform – also available at John Lewis stores
Average overall score: 8.13
Availability: Mixed availability depending on store size, and F+F is no longer sold online
Ease of care: Some shrinkage reported in trousers, stains needed treating
Sizing: Runs fairly true to size, slim fit available in some items
Special features: Adjustable waists
This year, F+F at Tesco was the lowest scoring of the "big three" supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys) but beat out Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl. One of the main complaints was the lack of convenience: F+F clothing is no longer sold online, even through click & collect, so you need to gamble that your local store will have the right sizes. Even then, it's really only during the summer that you can shop. "Availability in the Tescos local to me is limited unless it is during the 6 weeks of school summer holidays, which is a shame as I prefer their uniforms to other brands," said one parent we surveyed.
Emma, who tested the uniform for us with her 5-year-old son, admired the value of the uniform. "I was truthfully surprised at the price being so reasonable, especially the jumpers. I have been paying a lot more for uniforms in the past and as a solo parent I do feel the financial strain of buying uniform. I wouldn't normally buy at this price, or from Tesco, as I would have expected poorer quality, but I was pleasantly surprised."
However, parents in our survey did point out some issues, particularly when it came to washing and fading. "The polos lost shape and lost their colour quite quickly," one said, while another said F+F uniform "didn't seem as hardwearing as some others we had bought".
The skirts were a hit for their easy adjustability. "We like the skirts because the pleats aren't all the way around and they have an adjustable waistband," one parent said. Sima, who tested the uniform with her 7-year-old daughter, added "The skirt had an elastic in the waistband which you can tighten. We moved it to the 4th fastening to have a really neat fit. It's perfect as her waist is so small."
Emma wasn't so sure about the waistband of the trousers, which is half-elasticated with no fly or opening. "My child is very tiny on the waist and bottom so I needed to adjust the buttons quiet a bit to pull them in and was worried as this made it quite tight for him to pull up and down," she said. Parents in our survey also flagged this, with one saying, "We really struggle to find trousers for my son as he hates feeling restricted. Tried Tesco as we find the sizing good for him usually but the half elastic was an issue. He needs full elastic."
In a nutshell: Reliable uniform that performs well given the price, but perhaps isn't quite as innovative or exciting as other supermarkets, and is not available online. Boys trouser design is not perfect, but skirts were a big hit.
Available from: Tesco school uniform and selected Tesco stores
Average overall score: 8.08
Availability: Varies depending on store. Sold online (including value packs) but only available via click & collect in some areas
Ease of care: Shrinkage reported in socks only, other items washed well, stains came out in a normal wash
Sizing: Most reports suggest true to size, with a few items running a bit small/narrow
Special features: Reinforced knees, adjustable waists, picot trims and heart details on girls' items
Nutmeg at Morrisons has taken the unusual approach this year of offering online exclusive multipacks of certain uniform items that are cheaper than the items available in store. That means it's possible to get a uniform for less than the £10.60 we've quoted in our table, however we chose to list in-store prices so you can compare like-for-like.
Stacey, who tested the uniform with her 6-year-old son, said "The quality was ok, the material did seem thinner than some other supermarkets but better quality than the lower range. I think this will lead to the material wearing quickly after a year of weekly washes." Having tried a number of different uniforms for her son, Stacey described Morrisons as an average quality uniform but that it washed well, with no shrinkage or loss of colour.
The wash quality was something that Zartasha, who tested the uniform with her 10-year-old daughter, agreed with. "I usually find that polo shirts and cardigans I have purchased from other supermarkets shrink after the first wash and go off-white. With this particular uniform we haven't had any of these issues."
The parents we surveyed were also quite complimentary about wash qualities – there was some anecdotal evidence of shrinking, but only slight. One parent said, "The clothes washed well but I found that the trousers didn’t withstand the rough and tumble of my boys."
Fit was more of an issue. Shorts allegedly come up small, while Stacey explained, "My son did complain about the school shirt being too long in the body. He has quite wide shoulders so the fit on his arms and shoulders was no problem, but he mentioned the length of the shirt annoyed him. The jumper fitted OK, but I would say the arms would soon look short on him."
Overall, parents liked this uniform and "good quality" was one of the most prevalent comments, but availability is limited and even if you have a Morrisons store nearby, you're not guaranteed it will carry the range. Click & collect is your best option for ensuring you get what you need (and taking advantage of those online-only prices).
In a nutshell: Reliable uniform for the price, although sizing is not perfect. Washes well compared to other supermarkets, but availability is limited if you don't have a Morrisons store nearby.
Buy it now: Nutmeg at Morrisons school uniform and selected Morrisons stores
Average overall score: 8.08
Availability: Varies depending on store, good availability online. Parents report some colours have been discontinued
Ease of care: Some reports of shrinkage and fading to polo shirts, most stains came out easily, but some needed treating
Sizing: Runs slightly large, you may wish to size down or try on in store
Special features: Velcro plackets on polo shirts, adjustable waistbands
Sitting in the middle of the pack when it comes to both price and overall score, the general consensus is that Matalan school uniform performs about as well as you'd expect for the money. There were some concerns around sizing, however.
"My 4 year old still fits into her 2-3y cardigan from Matalan, so sizing is a bit off," one parent commented. "Matalan's uniforms are ok, but often are too big," another confirmed.
Some parents chose to look on the bright side, though, which is why Matalan scored well in the fit area overall. "I did find they were a little on the bigger side when it came to sizing but this is never a bad thing as children grow quickly and they get a lot more use out of the uniform," said one parent we surveyed. There were also reports that some styles were a bit boxy, and others restricted movement slightly.
Our home testers didn't seem to experience the sizing issues too dramatically. "My son is average on his body and wears his age size in tops but has short legs and wears a size down from his age. He is also incredibly skinny so we requested slim fitting trousers. The whole uniform fitted him really well, especially the trousers that were perfect for him. All have some growing room so will last a while," said Elisa, whose 6-year-old tested the uniform.
Laura, who tested the uniform with her 5-year-old daughter said, "All of the uniform that was labelled as age 6 years was slightly on the big side and had plenty of growing room for her. This is the size I would have bought for her as there is plenty of growing room and she is due a growth spurt. This should last her the full school year."
Washing was also an area that threw up some concerns, and this is where the brand lost a considerable number of points with parents in our survey, with repeated reports of shrinkage and fading.
"I found the t-shirt had shrunk slightly as shown in my pictures [above] despite not being tumble dried," Elisa confirmed. However Laura found that all of her uniform washed very well with no shrinkage, although she did struggle to get a yoghurt stain out of the jumper.
In a nutshell: Divided views from parents with lots of reports of shrinkage and irregular sizing, although our home testers were overall very positive and felt the products were good value and decent quality for the price. Size down or try in store if your children are small for their age.
Available from: Matalan school uniform – also available at Matalan stores
Average overall score: 7.93
Availability: Limited – sells out very quickly online and in stores
Ease of care: Some shrinkage reported, and pen stains didn't come out of polo shirt
Sizing: Most parents felt it runs slightly small
Special features: Adjustable waists, very cheap
Aldi's aim is to offer a full uniform for £5: the set comprises a jumper, a pair of trousers or a skirt, and a 2-pack of polo shirts. Other items including pinafore dresses, shirts and school shoes are also available, but stock availability is notoriously limited. As one parent put it, "You have to move fast!"
You probably won't be surprised to find that reports on the quality are mixed. Some parents rave about Aldi uniform, and our home testers were unexpectedly impressed given the cost. Natalie, who tested the uniform with her 6-year-old son commented, "I'm pleasantly surprised considering the price. The jumper is lovely and soft and the trousers feel thick enough to withstand active playing outside, although time will tell. The white polo shirt felt soft and substantial."
Amy, who tested with her 5-year-old daughter, said "I think this uniform is really good quality for the price you pay. I would 100% recommend."
However, when you look at the longer term view, with parents feeding back on how they found the uniform over several months, most were less complimentary. This meant Aldi ranked second lowest overall. Common complaints were that the fabric was flimsy and prone to tearing, while white polo shirts stained easily and faded to grey after a few washes. Shrinkage was also reported, and given that a lot of feedback suggested the uniform runs small as it is, this could be a big issue.
However, for those on a budget it's definitely an option worth considering. "I’d say if your child is within the normal size ranges it’s great quality and a great price. I’d buy the polo shirt, jumper and socks from Aldi over other brands," said Natalie.
In a nutshell: Very affordable uniform that our parent testers thought was definitely worth trying if you can get hold of the right sizes. Sizes run small and products are prone to shrinkage so wash at cool temperatures only and don't be afraid to size up.
Available from: Aldi school uniform – also available from selected Aldi stores
Average overall score: 7.73
Availability: Very limited, even online stock offering is very small and some items don't feel like traditional uniform
Ease of care: No shrinkage reported, stains came out in the wash
Sizing: Generally runs small, size up if your child is tall or large for their age
Special features: Fashionable styles, ribbon details
As one of our testers said, "I had no idea Gap makes school uniform!" and it's true that it's not something the brand is known for. However, Gap does indeed stock a small selection of items for school, and if you have a fussy child who's obsessed with Gap hoodies and joggers, this could be a solution – but only if you can find the right colours and sizes (stock is limited) and afford the RRP.
"The quality of all of the Gap uniform is great! It all feels super soft and is very comfortable to wear. Everything has lasted well, with no shrinkage or change of shape after washing," said Kelly, who tested the uniform with her 4-year-old son. "It would cost quite a lot to purchase your full uniform from Gap, but they are brilliant quality and should last your child well," she continued.
Indeed, at full price, the school uniform at Gap is by far the most expensive on our list, coming in at over £60 for one set, and this is the main reason it scored low overall in our survey. However, it's unlikely you would ever need to pay full price. As well as offering frequent deals in store and on the website, if you sign up for Gap's email newsletters you'll receive news of special deals and sales that will save you anything from 20% to 70%.
"I thought the quality was very good, thick fabrics and looked like it could withstand weekly washing," said Spyroula, whose 4-year-old daughter tested out the uniform. However, she was concerned about the overall cost, explaining, "If you need to replace items regularly because of wear and tear, stains and sizing up – which would be every child – then I would not recommend as it will become very costly to keep replacing and buying items, even though the quality is good."
In a nutshell: A small collection of stylish and modern school uniform that's made from high quality materials that wash and wear really well. Unfortunately, this uniform is the most expensive we tested, and many parents found it difficult to justify the expense.
Available from: Gap school uniform – also available at selected Gap Kids stores
Uniforms not tested by home testers
Average overall score: 8.33
Availability: Good range of styles and colours online, but some parents noted it was hard to find items in store
Ease of care: Washes well, no shrinkage reported
Sizing: A slight mix, generally true to size but girls polo shirts can run small. Regular and long lengths available
Special features: Adjustable waists, stain-resistant, organic cotton available
John Lewis's standard school uniform is, with the exception of Gap, the priciest in our test, but those who buy it do so because they know they can rely on the quality. We weren't able to send this uniform out to testers, but in our survey the John Lewis Standard uniform scored very highly. One parent commented, "John Lewis school uniform is soft, comfortable and washes really well. The tights are by far the best school tights we’ve ever bought – they never fall down!"
Another commented, "John Lewis uniform always washes well and lasts the whole year. I particularly like that the trousers have reinforced knees." Longevity seems to be the main reason for purchasing uniform from John Lewis, with one parent explaining, "This uniform lasted all term with no holes in the knees, washed well and didn't fade.
However, as expected with a uniform that costs almost 3 times as much as some supermarket options, for a lot of parents the cost is a barrier. "They're just too expensive to buy more than the occasional piece," said one parent.
The sizing range for older children is good – boys' shirts go right up to adult collar sizes – and there are a number of colour options in this range that aren't available in the ANYDAY range.
In a nutshell: Good quality items with good choice of style and colour, plus longer lengths, however they are very expensive and many parents feel this is prohibitive.
Buy it now: John Lewis school uniform – also available at John Lewis stores
Average overall score: 7.58
Availability: Extremely limited – sells out very quickly in stores, not available online
Ease of care: Fair amount of shrinkage and colour fade reported
Sizing: Often comes up a bit small
Special features: Very cheap
Due to lack of availability, we weren't able to send Lidl uniform to our home testers. This is one of the biggest issues reported with Lidl uniforms – limited amounts of uniform drop in stores (you never quite know when) and then sell out almost immediately – but you may find a new drop on 28 July 2022.
Lidl uniforms are also unavailable online and the store wasn't able to provide us with exact pricing details, but we do know that most of the uniform pieces match those of Aldi, the other discount supermarket in our test – so around £5 for our selected sample.
However, we did have considerable feedback from our survey about Lidl uniform.
Not surprisingly there was a lot of praise for Lidl's prices, with some parents "blown away" by the cost. But wash quality didn't fare so well. "Good value but thinner than similarly priced items in Aldi and doesn’t wash as well," said one parent, adding, "Polo shirts don’t stay white for long,"
Another commented, "Great price but that is reflected in the quality. The shape changed a bit and shrunk after washing." Some parents were more positive, with one saying, "The t-shirt for PE has lasted the entire term so far and only one tiny stain!"
Overall, parents felt that Lidl uniform performed slightly less well than Aldi, with plenty of experiences of of shrinking and colour fading. Sizing was also considered to run small. "I bought a size 4-6yrs for my 5 year old and it came up quite small," commented one parent.
In a nutshell: Very cheap uniform that can be useful if you have a fast-growing child or items that they won't wear for that long. But difficult to find, and very limited colours and sizes.
Available from: Selected Lidl stores
¹ Survey carried out in June 2022 with 709 MadeForMums parents of children who wear school uniform
Pics: Home testers recruited via the MadeForMums Top Testers Club
How we home-tested school uniforms
We tested primary school uniforms, comprising (in most cases) a shirt or polo shirt, jumper or cardigan, skirt, pinafore or trousers and socks. Kids put them through their paces before parents washed and dried them following the instructions on the labels (usually washing at 40°).
Our testers reported back on:
- Ease of wear
- Comfort and fit
- Washing; shrinkage and removing stains
- Worth the money
How we conducted our school uniform survey
In June 2022 we asked over 700 parents more than 50 questions about their children's uniforms. We also asked them to score uniforms for the following criteria, before calcuating an overall average score.
- Worth the money
- 9 important primary school tests your child may have to take
- Best family days out reviewed – plus how to save money
- Tesco Clubcard days out - where you can go with your vouchers
- 6 ways to encourage your child to be more curious
- Best name labels for school
Wearing a uniform reduces absenteeism, promotes school attendance, pay attention to their studies and instils a lot of discipline, focus and good behaviour. Most importantly, it induces presentation skills, which help them talk with confidence and gives a sense of motivation and purpose.What are 3 reasons why students should wear uniforms? ›
- Create cohesion. ...
- Reduce the potential for bullying. ...
- Improve study ethic. ...
- Increase safety. ...
- Fairer dress codes. ...
- Remove peer pressure. ...
- Prepare for the outside world.
- They Can Break Down Class Barriers Between Students. ...
- They Can Increase Student Focus. ...
- They Can Increase the Sense of Community in a School. ...
- School Uniforms Can Promote Safety. ...
- They Can Be Expensive for Parents. ...
- Uniforms Limit Student Self-Expression. ...
- Uniforms Might Be Sexist.
Uniforms help prevent embarrassing problems while promoting self-discipline. We have developed a standard of dress that is reliable for everyone. We want to help our kids avoid issues related to modesty and cleanliness. Dirty and unkept outfits quickly become a non-issue when there is a standard.What are the advantages and disadvantages of wearing a uniform? ›
|Pros or Benefits of Wearing Uniforms at Work||Cons or Disadvantages of Wearing Uniforms at Work|
|Advertising for the company||Hampered performance|
|Professional image||Prevents uniqueness|
|First impression||Negative reception|
Work uniforms promote a sense of team spirit and a sense of belonging. This, in turn, can improve worker productivity. Employee benefit. Employer provided uniforms save employees money, and when provided as part of a Rental Program, eliminate employee laundering time and expense.Do uniforms make schools better? ›
The upshot: Uniforms had zero effect on behavior in any grade. Low-income students in schools that required uniforms did have slightly better attendance, but it amounted to less than one day a year, the study found. Researchers also looked at self-reports from the students when they were in fifth grade.Should we wear school uniforms? ›
Wearing uniforms help students to feel inclusive in school since everyone wears the same. They do not need to worry about others may judge them due to their outfits. In addition, school uniforms also help the issue between upper grades students and lower grades students.Do school uniforms improve grades? ›
Research shows that when schools implement a uniform policy, it improves grades, while it reduces tardiness, skipped classes and suspensions. One study showed that 70% of principals believed that mandated school uniforms reduced disciplinary problems at their schools.Does school uniform affect learning? ›
Many school leaders share the view that, by wearing a school uniform, students gain skills in presentation which ultimately lead to improved discipline in the classroom. Uniforms can also improve attendance rates, and prevent students from forming gangs and groups that could result in further bad behaviour.
Uniform positively affects pupils' behaviour
Another one of the pros of school uniforms was discovered in a report into attitudes to uniform, which found that 9 in 10 teachers believe that school uniform positively affects pupils' behaviour.
- The first School Uniform was Introduced in 1552. ...
- Uniforms Improve Listening in Class. ...
- 20% of US Schools have Uniform Policies (Up 8%) ...
- Primary Schools (23%) require Uniforms more than Middle (18%) and High Schools (10%) in the US.
School uniforms can help reduce bullying, and they help students feel like they fit in more and feel like they are part of a team. They help make it harder to identify those who would be an easy target for a bully, and they make it easier for students to feel like they belong at the school.Do you think wearing uniform has more advantages or disadvantages? ›
In conclusion, although wearing uniforms to work has positive influence on employees and companies such as promote the brand of company and easier for customers to identify but there are still certain negative effects as well.Do school uniforms improve student behavior? ›
Despite the belief of many parents and teachers, school uniforms don't seem to have any effect on young students' behavior or attendance overall, a new national study found.How do uniforms make schools safer? ›
School uniforms may decrease violence and theft, prevent gang members from wearing gang colors and insignia at school, promote student discipline, help parents and students resist peer pressure, help students concentrate on their school work, and enable school officials to recognize school intruders.Do school uniforms create a sense of community? ›
Benefits of School Uniforms:
Uniforms not only unify students' appearances, but they also create a sense of unity in terms of community. Students in a uniform feel they belong to their school and that their school belongs to them.
Many people strongly believe that school uniform helps to install a greater sense of discipline amongst pupils. When children put on their uniform, they change from being a child to a student which in turn encourages them to obey school rules and procedures.Why should we wear school uniforms persuasive essay? ›
School uniform prevents people prejudging others as everybody looks similar to one another. There are many categories of social groups for example Goths, punks, indie and popular people but school uniform helps to create a more equal atmosphere within the school.