Watercress Line girls dressed as Harry Potter with dog

Back to primary school checklist

What’s your back to school style? It seems that most of us are either last minute wonders or super organised. My preference is to buy uniform at the start of the holidays to avoid the early September rush. That said, it’s often sensible to leave it to the last minute to buy shoes. If you buy those early, you can almost guarantee they’ll grow during the school summer holidays. Here’s my checklist for what to buy before they go back to school. What have I forgotten??

Watercress Line girls dressed as Harry Potter with dog

School uniform

I always buy uniform a little on the large side and either buy huge summer dresses or avoid buying them until Easter. It’s worth holding back a bit on jumpers and cardigans too, especially if your school sell them second hand. We usually buy a couple of school logo jumpers at the start of term, then stock up on second hand ones at school events. After all, they’re going to lose them.

The uniform checklist

  • T-shirts
  • Trousers / dresses / skirts
  • Jumpers / cardigans
  • School socks and / or tights
  • P E kit: t-shirt, shorts, pumps

Other clothes

While we’re getting school uniform, I usually take the opportunity to have a clear out. Uniform that no longer fits either child goes to the charity or second hand shop. Anything that’s no longer usable goes to the rag recycling. We go through the same process with other clothes. Even pants get an upgrade at this time of year. I only buy pink pants for Lia and blue pants for Libby to make it easier when I’m sorting out the washing. I tend to buy a few new clothes for them now if they need them. The summer sales are a cheap time to buy and it’s good to get everything sorted at the same time.

Other school essentials

I always check water bottles for signs of wear and tear. Anything leaky goes, as do metal bottles showing signs of rust. School bags get an upgrade if necessary but they tend to last quite well here. It’s time to match lunch boxes to lids and if one or other is absent then we buy new ones. Name labels are absolutely essential if you want to avoid losing everything within the first five minutes. Don’t forget to label things like bags and shoes. We have tried iron on labels, biro and stick on labels. Stick on labels are easiest but iron-on ones stay put the best, so we’re going back to those this year.

Pik-Nik cheese sticks in a lunchbox

Non-uniform checklist

  • School bag
  • Water bottle
  • Lunch box
  • Name labels


I’ve left these until last because we buy them at the end of the holidays. We bought a shoe measurer a few years ago so we can measure them at home and buy school shoes online. Another tip from us is to consider buying boys shoes for active girls. My eldest got through two pairs of shoes a term until I bought her a boys’ pair of Kickers. Luckily, they’re now able to wear black trainers instead of school shoes so we stick with those. They last a bit longer and the girls love how comfortable they are for running around on the playground.

That’s our list of essentials for back to school this year. What would you add? I can’t help thinking I’ve forgotten something!

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