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Starting school is exciting and nerve-wracking for children (and parents!). So here’s our practical back-to-school guide to help you calm those nerves, get organised and enjoy your child’s biggest milestone so far


Get set for the new term

Each school has a slightly different school uniform policy, so read the rules thoroughly. There’s a lot going on in the week before starting term and you really don’t want to be worrying about uniform at that point, which is why it’s a good idea to get sorted now. Also, remember that September can often be quite warm and many schools still wear summer uniform (often gingham dresses for girls and shorts for boys), so ask other parents – or the school’s Facebook group – if you’re unsure.

Top tip: “Label everything,” says Claire, mother to seven-year-old twins Arthur and May. “Kids leave cardigans and jumpers everywhere and quite often when they’re in Reception they’ll come home dressed in someone else’s uniform/shoes/coat. Seriously. At least if it’s labelled everything eventually finds its way back to its rightful owner.”

Girls’ school uniform

Boys’ school uniform


Make starting school stress-free

We realise that anything that takes the stress out of that morning mad dash to school is a winner with you, so we’ve done everything we can to help. From non-iron shirts and dresses to crease-resistant, stain-resistant and water-repellent shorts, trousers, skirts and pinafores, everything is designed to save you time, money and energy and help keep them smart. Not sure about shoes? Read our guide to the best school shoes and learn more about Clarks at M&S to help them step out in confidence on their first day.

Top tip: “Anything that helps children get dressed by themselves is brilliant – and the teachers will be very grateful too,” says Sam, mother to Charlotte, 7, and Edward, 4. “The obvious one is Velcro-fastening shoes, but there are also easy-dressing dresses and shirts with Velcro behind the buttons that are great for younger ones or kids who don’t have as much dexterity. I always buy tights a size bigger too as they’re much easier to get on.”

Easy-dressing uniform range

School shoes


Help them be prepared

Whether it’s packing a spare uniform for little accidents or making sure they have a coat on even the sunniest day so they’re prepared for sudden downpours (this is Britain, after all), keeping kids comfortable, dry and warm goes a long way to keeping them happy at school. And when it is hot, don’t forget sunhats and to apply sun cream – playgrounds can often be particularly shade-free zones. A roomy school bag is a must for toting around all their essentials.

Top tip: “For new starters, I’d suggest short-sleeved shirts and blouses all year round, especially if their school’s uniform requires white ones,” says Louis, dad to Lola, 8, and Bruno, 7. “Play-based learning coupled with kids’ still-developing motor skills means their sleeves are a magnet for everything from paint to pudding. And while the shirts wash well, it just saves you having to wash them after every single day.”

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