Back to school is a stressful time for families, but you can take some of that stress away with good planning and organisation.
There’s lots to consider, and if your child is going to school for the first time or even changing schools, there’s likely to be a lot of other emotions flying around at the same time. Work together as a family to talk about any back to school nerves, and when thinking about buying essentials for the year ahead, try and get your child as involved as possible - for example by letting them pick the colour of their bag or lunchbox.
When thinking of ‘back to school supplies’, your mind might go straight for stationery - pens, pencils, rulers and paper.
The truth is, though, that most primary schools nowadays will provide these basics, and children are often asked not to bring their own in from home so as not to cause disruption and upset inside the classroom.
So, before buying anything, we recommend having a look on your school’s website or asking them for a list of what is supplied at school and what your child needs to bring in themselves. This will stop you wasting money, time and effort on something they will not use.
What will my primary school child need for school?
Here’s a basic list of things to consider that your primary school aged child might need for school:
School uniform - shirts, trousers/shorts/skirts/dresses, jumpers and cardigans
School shoes - preferably ones they can put on by themselves
PE kit - t-shirts, shorts and plimsolls or trainers
Backpack or book bag
Any stationery that is not supplied by the school for example pens, pencils, ruler and an eraser.
What will my secondary school child need for school?
In addition to the above, a secondary school child might also benefit from supplies such as:
Maths geometry set including a compass, set square and protractor
Post it notes and index tabs
We’ve rounded up the best Back to School essentials to help make shopping for them as painless as possible.
Stamptastic Personalised DOUBLE Stamp Set
Fed up of spending hours sewing on name labels to your children’s school clothes, or ironing them on for them to have fallen off only a couple of weeks later? Stamptastic is the answer you’ve been looking for.
This fully customisable name stamp and ink pad means you can quickly and easily stamp your child’s name onto the care labels inside their clothes - in fact, Stamptastic reckon you can name all of your child’s school uniform in less than 15 minutes, but we would say even less time. The ink pad should last at least 2,000 uses and up to two years if kept in the provided airtight bag, so will easily last you the whole school year and beyond.
Fully customisable from a choice of fonts and sizes, you can also choose a little symbol to go next to their name - from smiley faces and flowers to dinosaurs and trucks, there’s bound to be something to put a smile on your little one’s face - and if they’re not quite able to read their own name yet, then the symbol will aid independence in helping them to identify their clothes.
Independently tested to withhold up to 50 washes at 40 degree heat, there’s no wonder this name stamp is much loved by the likes of celebrity mums Stacey Solomon and Giovanna Fletcher.
Buy now £34.00, Amazon
Aldi White Polo Shirt 2 Pack
Aldi’s Back to School range is most certainly impressive - they’re claiming to be the UK’s best value school uniform, able to kit your child out with everything they need for £5, with individual prices starting from just 99p.
Despite the low prices, the quality is impressive - these white polo shirts, available in both a girls’ and boys’ fit, are 100 per cent cotton and machine washable at 40oC. They also have a Bionic- Finish Eco water repellent finishing and High IQ pro white technology for longer lasting bright whites even after multiple washes. The shirts are surprisingly soft and comfortable with sturdy buttons and seams, and we love that good quality school uniform is being made at such an affordable price.
ALDI are so confident in their quality that they offer a 150 day satisfaction guarantee to ensure their uniform survives the rough and tumble of the playground, and by buying this product, a contribution is made to Africa’s future and environmental protection as part of the Cotton Made in Africa initiative.
Buy now £1.75, Aldi
TOG24 Stanbury Kids 3 in 1 Jacket
Available in ages 4 through to 13, this versatile coat will keep your child warm and dry no matter the weather as they go back to school. Comprising a waterproof and breathable outer jacket with a removable cosy inner fleece, you have full flexibility to wear the layers zipped together or separately as individual jackets, which is extremely handy for the ever changing English weather.
The outer jacket is waterproof 5k and breathable 5k as well as being windproof with fully taped seams, so you can rest easy knowing your child is very well protected from the elements during any unexpected rainfall on their walk to and from school. The zip is fairly chunky, so younger children will be able to zip up their own coat with ease, but there’s also hook and loop tabs and press studs if they do struggle. Lined pockets for treasures, a name tag for safe keeping and large hanging loop make this coat an excellent choice for school children.
If your child’s school is strict on colours when it comes to coats, then the blue colourway will probably be best for you, but there’s also a raspberry option available with a golden yellow style on the cards coming soon.
Buy now £60.00, TOG24
Start-Rite Strike School Shoes
With bundles of advice online as well as measuring gauges available to purchase so you can get the absolute perfect fit from the comfort of your own home, Start-Rite’s shoes are stylish and comfortable with the durability and endurance you expect from a top quality school shoe.
We love Strike, a pair of sporty shoes perfect for children that love to kick a football and get active. Absolutely everything has been considered - from toe and heel bumpers that are impressively durable against playground antics, to reflective panels that are unnoticeable until the low level light conditions of dark Winter evenings. A pull tab at the heel and two riptape fastening straps make the shoe easy to pull on and off independently, and the bio mechanically engineered sole has targeted flexibility on specific ages for the best comfort and fit. Start-Rite’s Air Rite targeted airflow technology keeps feet fresh and helps regulate foot temperature meaning less sweaty smelly feet at the end of the day.
These shoes are designed to never be outworn, only outgrown, and they even have a growing room guarantee, meaning if you order your child’s school shoes up to three months early and they no longer fit by the time September comes, you can return them free of charge for a full refund.
If you want the Start-Rite technology on a style more suited towards girls, we would recommend the Wish style: a more delicate shoe with beautiful floral detailing.
Buy now £50.00, Start-Rite
Bobux Quest School Shoes
Bobux shoes are a little different to traditional school shoes - they’re much more flexible, with the feel of a trainer rather than a chunky school shoe. Exceptionally lightweight, the Quest style is bound to be popular with girls with its relaxed Mary Jane styling.
A single hook and loop strap means it’s easy for your child to put on independently, and there’s even a hidden name label inside the strap - great for those children who can’t always be trusted to come home in the same shoes you sent them to school in!
The soft premium leather outer boasts breathability and durability with a protective coating on the toe and heel, whilst the EVA and memory foam inner sole is comfortable underfoot and removable for size adjustment if needed. The KID+ BBX non marking sole has excellent grip, and features a zero-drop sole and deep herringbone grooves across the high flex area to both promote good foot development and mimic natural movement.
If you love the Bobux feel, but prefer a more covered shoe; we would recommend the Venture waterproof style, which features a SplashTEX® waterproof hidden inner membrane to keep feet dry in unpredictable weather.
Also available at Trouva
Buy now £59.00, Amazon
Frugi Pack a Snack Lunch Bag
If you’re worried about sending your child back to school with packed lunches, for whatever reason, you can minimise your worries with Frugi’s Pack a Snack lunch bag.
Cleverly designed with school children in mind, the main pocket is foil lined with foam inserts to keep food fresh (and avoid soggy sandwiches!) and there’s a handy front pocket for extra smaller snacks and cutlery. Plenty big enough for a sandwich, fruit and snacks, there’s also chunky pull tabs on the zips for the littlest of fingers, as well as a handle for them to carry their lunch with pride and a handy name tag on the back.
Parents will love that Frugi’s Pack a Snack lunch bags are wipe clean, as well as being made with recycled plastic bottles, and if you like to co-ordinate then there’s even matching water bottles, pencil cases, backpacks and coats.
Currently available in a bright hedgerow inspired design with birds and butterflies or a National Trust hedgehog design that’s perfect for Autumn, these lunch boxes are great for both boys and girls; but if your child loves animals, dinosaurs or unicorns then keep an eye out for the new styles launching soon!
Buy now £16.00, Frugi
Munchkin Kid’s Lunch Bento Box With Stainless Steel Utensils
For children who tend to graze on smaller snacks or prefer a bento box style lunch, the Munchkin Kid’s Lunch Bento Box is an excellent choice. Large and sturdy with a durable matte finish, we love the easy to use, child-friendly clip to secure the bento box, as well as the cutlery that cleverly snaps into place inside the lid. The compartments are perfectly sized for small sandwiches, drinks cartons, small snacks and fruits, and the silicone gasket keeps food fresh and secure inside their compartments. The whole bento box is dishwasher safe making clean up after school quick and easy.
Buy now £23.44, Amazon
This cleverly designed backpack is the perfect back to school bag for all ages. Intended to ‘give children a sense of pride’, the PACHEE Beltbackpack is so much more than just a classic design. Fully customisable with collectable woven badges, there’s also a detachable belt bag that is perfect for younger children that just want to take a few small treasures into school with them that day.
Available in all of your children’s favourite block bright colours and made of sustainable eco cotton canvas, the bag features a large main compartment with a padded separator, zip compartment and name badge, as well as two deep side net pockets that fit a water bottle securely.
Parents will love the thick padded shoulder straps and chest strap, and there’s a removable waist strap for days your child is carrying heavier books. Children will love the secret pockets and collectable reward badges - whether your child is a maths whizz, gymnast enthusiast or mini Picasso, there’ll be a badge of honour just for them, as well as initial badges too!
Also available at Not on the High Street
Buy now £35.00, PACHEE
Melissa & Doug My First Daily Magnetic Calendar
Whether your child is starting school for the first time or simply going back after a welcomed Summer Holiday break, getting into the rhythm of a successful daily routine is a must. As parents, we know that children thrive on routine, and the My First Daily Calendar by Melissa & Doug helps to visualise this and get them involved.
The calendar consists of two hanging wooden framed dry-wipe boards, with numerous magnets to outline the day ahead. With space to display the date, weather, daily activities and how your child is feeling, it’s an excellent way to let your child feel in control of the day. There’s also blank magnets so you can add your own activities in, or you can forget about the magnets entirely and use the calendar with dry erase markers. The choice is yours!
Best for younger children, those who particularly need structure and routine and those children that constantly ask ‘what are we doing today?’; this daily calendar is bound to help ease that back to school transition.
Buy now £19.99, Amazon
Rachel Ellen x Thermos FUNtainer Bottle
The Rachel Ellen range for Thermos includes dinosaur, mermaid, pirates and unicorns, tapping into children’s favourites to ensure they’re excited and motivated to keep drinking throughout the day, and there’s even matching lunchboxes and food flasks.
The FUNtainer 355ml bottle is vacuum insulated to keep drinks cold for 12 hours, and leak proof when closed - perfect for children that have a tendency to leave their water bottles lying down or rumbling about in the bottom of their bag.
The lid pops open with the push of a button, revealing the pop up straw, which is sturdy and fast flowing, and there’s even a little carry loop handle on the top so your child can carry their bottle with ease or even attach a strap.
The BPA-free stainless steel interior and exterior is tough and durable, and Thermos are so confident in their quality and performance that you even get a five year guarantee, meaning this water bottle should last your child the majority of their school life.
Buy now £20.00, Argos
Children’s Positive Affirmation Cards by Get Some Positivity
Build their confidence and self esteem before going back to school by making positive affirmations part of their daily routine. With over 20 unique affirmations, the cards are well designed with bright, engaging colours on a background of various shapes. Perfectly sized for small hands, the cards come with a cotton pouch to keep them safe in - or pop inside your child’s school bag for them to reach for if they’re feeling a little low.
With affirmations such as ‘I am brave’, ‘I am creative’ and ‘I am patient’, we think these positive affirmations are bound to help with any self confidence wobbles and back to school nerves.
Buy now £12.95, Amazon
Learning Resources Create-A-Space See-Thru Storage Caddy
Back to school means back to homework, and after a six week summer holiday, your child might not be feeling all that keen of the idea of knuckling down at a desk to complete their work. Help motivate them by investing in some organisers to create their very own workstation. Having their own space to complete their work, with their own things and everything they need, will not only help fill them with a sense of pride and independence, but also help minimise distractions.
We love the Create-A-Space See-Thru Storage Caddy by Learning Resources for numerous reasons, but mostly because of how versatile it is. The carry handle means their supplies can be transported around quickly with ease, so if you don’t have the space for your child to have a dedicated desk, you can quickly transform any flat surface into a homework station.
The transparent storage bins mean you can easily see what is inside, and they can also be taken off the base and used independently if you so wish. The coloured lids make the storage system a little more fun, and there’s no limit as to what you could store inside, but there’s plenty of space for pens, pencils, scissors, glue and other writing utensils and stationery supplies.
Buy now £18.00, Amazon
Smiggle Better Together Book Bag
If your child’s school allows for personal book bags, this can be a great way for your child to express their individuality as they go back to school. Smiggle’s Better Together Book Bag comes in five designs including space, gaming and unicorn mermaids (that’s not a typo - it’s really a mermaid that is also a unicorn, what a way to tap into your imagination!).
Lightweight yet incredibly sturdy, the book bag features a long Velcro opening that is easy for young children to open but still keeps everything safe and secure inside, reinforced corners for durability, a comfortable strap for carrying and a name label on the back for quick identification.
Parents will love that it can be wiped clean and is much sturdier than typical school-brand book bags, and if your child likes to match their personal items then the Better Together range also includes backpacks, lunchboxes, pencil cases and more.
Buy now £12.00, Smiggle
Back to school supplies for Secondary School pupils
Helix Oxford Complete Back to School Stationery Set
A one stop shop for everything your secondary school child will need this coming year, the Helix Oxford Complete Back to School Stationery Set includes 36 different pens and pencils, a maths set, a ruler and glue stick as well as an Oxford scientific calculator and a clear pencil case that is perfect for exam season. This one set truly does have everything your child will need in their pencil case, and is a great way to get organised quickly and easily.
Buy now £27.99, Amazon
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 334
Make school work and revision notes a bit more fun with these colourful fineliner pens. Their ergonomic triangular shape makes them comfortable to hold for longer lengths of time, and the superfine, metal-clad tip means even the tiniest of details are achievable. Writing will feel easy and relaxed yet look vibrant, and you don’t need to panic about putting the lids back on straight away with the dry safe technology.
They come in a handy stand up box to easily access and store the pens, wash out of most fabrics easily and are available in over 60 colours, but we love the pack of 10 for popping in a school bag or keeping on your desk at home.
Buy now £8.99, Amazon
Amazon Basics A6 Ruled Index Cards
An absolute essential for those going back to school in GCSE and A-Level year groups are revision cards. These Amazon Basics Index Cards are lined to make writing neat and straight, and are made a little more interesting by being 4 different colours rather than just standard white, so you can colour code your notes by subjects or topics. It includes 200 cards which should be plenty for the year.
Whilst we’re at it, here’s a little revision tip: encourage your child to make revision cards as they go throughout the year. It’s much easier to remember the most important parts of a topic whilst it’s still fresh in your mind, rather than six months down the line in the rush of exam season.
Buy now £6.28, Amazon
Eastpak Padded Pak’r Bag
With padded shoulder straps for comfort, this backpack is both functional and stylish. Perfect for fashion conscious teens, Eastpak’s Padded Pak’r Bag is actually able to fit A4 books and binders in with ease - meaning no more curled corners and torn edges of notebooks.
Sturdy enough to manage the weight from a couple of textbooks yet still remarkably lightweight, this backpack also has a front pocket for easy access to smaller essentials. Better yet, it’s water resistant to provide some protection from the unpredictable English weather and is 100 per cent vegan.
Available in over 200 different colourways and designs, there’s bound to be a choice to suit your child’s personality.
Buy now £47.00, Eastpak
Halo Cherub Water Bottle 350ml
Perfectly sized for bags and coat pockets, keep your older child hydrated with this reusable vacuum-insulated stainless steel bottle by Halo. Keeping drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12, this BPA free bottle is an excellent choice all year round for both water or a warming tea for commuting into school in the colder months. The wider mouth allows you to pop a couple of ice cubes in and despite being made of stainless steel, there’s absolutely no trace of a metallic taste.
Even more; the bottle is noticeably thinner and lighter than comparable brands - in fact they claim to be the UK’s most compact and lightweight insulated bottle - meaning it won’t add too much weight to a schoolbag already filled to the brim with textbooks. Available in four pastel colours of chip-resistant paint, your child can show some personality with their colour choice and look effortlessly cool. No childish water bottles over here!
Buy now £22.00, Halo
Land’s End Kids’ Packable Drawstring Bag
Don’t forget about a PE bag! An often overlooked bit of kit, your child will appreciate a functional but cool bag to transport their sweaty PE kit home to be washed, rather than a disposable plastic bag that is likely to be put down and forgotten, or shoved into a locker for weeks on end.
This Land’s End Kid’s Packable Drawstring Bag is well made and sturdy yet still incredibly lightweight - it can even fold in on itself when not in use to a small pouch, making it perfect for storing and travelling. The thick drawstrings are sure to withstand heavy use as they’re slung over shoulders or worn as a backpack, and there’s even mesh pockets on the side for a water bottle. Available in a range of colours from unisex greys and blacks to blue galaxies and purple patterns, there’s bound to be a colourway your teenager will love.
Buy now £15.00, Land’s End
The standout back to school supply that will make your life easier ahead of this coming school year no matter how old your child has to be the Stamptastic School Name Labels. Stamp your stress away whilst saving yourself time and money when labelling your children’s school uniform and personal belongings; we recommend this name stamp to all parents and guardians.