British families will spend £244.90 on average getting each of their children ready for the new school term

  • 46% of parents are worried about how they are going to afford the cost of kitting their kids out for the academic year
  • Parents also set to spend £186.50 on rewarding their children for good grades over the summer

New research released today by reveals the true cost of going back to school, with parents up and down the county set to spend a massive £3.4bn* on getting their children ready for the new school term.

The study of over 2,000 parents by found that the average family will spend £244.90 per child on preparations for the new academic year, making sure their offspring has all the equipment and clothes needed, from pencil cases to plimsolls. School uniforms top the list of expensive school supplies (£52.90), followed by coats / jackets (£38.70) and school shoes (£36.50).

Top five costly school items Average amount spent per child National total
School uniform £52.90 £732m
Coat / jacket £38.70 £535m
School shoes £36.50 £505m
PE kit £28.90 £400m
Books and stationery £26.00 £360m


Rewarding good results

However, the expense doesn’t stop at new school supplies, as children who achieve good grades at either GCSE or A Level are set to be rewarded on average £186.50 for their efforts by their parents this summer.

The study revealed that more than a third (39%) of parents incentivise differently depending on the grade or equivalent** achieved, with each grade A (7)*** demanding an average of £25.50, followed by £21.30 per grade B (6) and £17.40 per grade C (4).

When rewarding their offspring, over two fifths (44%) reward each child with £90.30 in cash on average. One in 6 parents (16%) will even take their sons and daughters on holiday, while 6% of teens have parents who have promised to pay for a car if they do well on results day.

Top 10 most popular rewards for good grades Average amount spent
Financial reward (cash) £90.30
A nice meal out £64.50
A day out £72.00
Gift cards or vouchers £86.80
A games console £176.10
A family holiday £526.70
A mobile phone £214.50
A tablet £205.40
A laptop or computer £322.70
Money towards a school prom / school event £93.20


The study revealed that the rewards don’t stop there. Almost three-quarters (71%) of parents reward their children for their general performance at school, such as in teacher’s evaluations and extracurricular activities. Almost a third (27%) claim that they reward their child’s general performance at school equally, regardless of subject or achievement.

Pricey pupils

Those set to enter Year 6 to Year 8 are the priciest pupils, with parents set to spend an average of £276.20 getting 11 to 13-year-olds ready for a new school year. Those in early years (Reception up to Year 2) cost the least (£182).

When it comes to spend by specific subjects, those set to specialise in sports and music will spend more than the average student on school supplies, with PE, music and technology claiming the top spots on the list of the most expensive subjects.

Top 10 expensive subjects Average amount spent per child per year National average
PE £22.70 £314m
Music £21.20 £293m
Technology (E.g., Resistant Materials, Food, Textiles) £21.10 £292m
Art £19.00 £263m
Science £17.30 £239m
Languages £16.90 £234m
Math £16.50 £228m
Social Studies £16.00 £221m
Drama £15.60 £215m
English £15.50 £214m


Back to school burden

Almost half (46%) of parents are worried about how they are going to afford the cost of kitting their kids out for the new term, with a third (33%) claiming they will have to dig into their savings. Almost half (49%) claim they have already had to change their spending habits, with 44% revealing that they are cutting back on personal treats to carry the cost of sending their child back to school.

Brits’ top cutbacks to afford sending children back to school %
Personal treats 44%
Eating out 44%
Everyday luxuries 38%
Treats for the family 32%
Days out 30%
Holidays 23%
Alcohol or tobacco 21%
Everyday essentials 19%


Jimmy New, Director of Marketing at VoucherCodes, comments:

“The end of summer has become an increasingly expensive time for families with exam results and back to school costs. As well as the financial toll on parents, back to school supplies in particular have become an increasingly competitive market for retailers as supermarkets and traditional clothes retailers vie to undercut each other for the best value school basics.

“Businesses and retailers have the opportunity to increase customer engagement and support parents during August and September by being strategic with their promotions during this key time. For example, running multibuy deals on uniform basics or, for restaurants, offering vouchers or set menus to capture those celebrating exams results.  Many of our retail partners are already running some compelling promotions on back to school supplies to ensure they stay competitive in what is now a very crowded space – but, with a few weeks still to go until the new term starts, it’s not too late to get involved.”

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