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The best school shoes for kids: A buying guide for back to school prep

Looking for comfy school shoes that will last? We've compiled a helpful buying guide packed with tips...

It may not be back to school time just yet, but it's never too early to start shopping for school uniforms to get ready for the new school year. And as with any new term, the first thing that will be needed for those growing feet is a new pair of school shoes. 

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When it comes to buying the right school shoes, you don't want to put a foot wrong. It's important to find a pair of school shoes that are comfortable, sturdy, and of course stylish. That's why we've put together a helpful guide to finding the perfect shoes for the classroom, so your kids can kick off the term the right way.

Plan ahead

Tempting as it may seem, don't leave buying school shoes until the last week in August. Everyone thinks this is the best time as children's feet grow over the summer holidays. While this is true, try and get them measured slightly earlier. If you leave it to the last minute, you risk finding that there are limited styles and sizes left, as well as missing out on the sales - including Marks & Spencer's 20% off sale for school uniforms in July. 

School shoe policy

Your first stop when buying shoes for the new term should be the school uniform guide. All school policies differ when it comes to the colours and styles of footwear allowed.

Some may not permit embellishments like diamantes, flashing lights on the soles or elaborate stitching, while others will be quite happy letting their students express their stylish side.

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Lelli Kelly embellished girl's shoes, £59.90, John Lewis


Wave goodbye to boring school uniform with these Lelli shoes which come with interchangeable straps - so your little one can enjoy switching up the designs. 

Leather bow school shoes, from £30, Marks & Spencer 


These leather school shoes are so sturdy, with foam insoles and padding for added comfort. The antibacterial technology to keeps feet feeling fresh, with a scruff-resistant coating to keep them in great condition on the playground.

READ: How to survive the school holidays with teenagers – by a psychologist

Poppy shoes, £40, Start Rite


If you prefer a classic school shoe style, these Poppy shoes are perfect. 

Lottie leather t-bar buckle shoes, £52, Start Rite 


As part of Start Rite's 230th birthday celebrations, the brand has launched a collection of their best-selling silhouettes, including these soft leather cut-out shoes which are sturdy enough to last and stylish enough that your child will love them. 


It's all about the fit 

It's imperative that your kids' school footwear fits, is comfortable and will last as long as possible. Remember, these shoes are going to be worn all day, every weekday, for between a term and two terms, depending on your child's age and how fast their feet grow.

Getting the right fit is crucial. Traditionally, shopping for school shoes involved getting children's feet measured in-store by a shoe specialist. But if you'd rather avoid the chaos and crowds of the high street and measure your children's feet for yourself, then the Start-Rite shoe fitting gauge needs to be on your radar. The gauge will measure your child's feet to determine their shoe size, so you can order the shoes from the comfort of your home. 

Shoe fitting gauge, £8, Start Rite


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Opt for velcro for younger kids

When looking for the perfect school shoe, one of the most important considerations is age. Younger children in preschool, Reception and Year 1 are unlikely to manage a shoelace or a fiddly buckle, especially if they are being rushed to get changed and go to their next lesson.

Save them and their teachers' time and stress by opting for shoes with a Velcro fastening that can be quickly done up and undone again.

TU black leather floral school shoes, from £12, Sainsbury's


Kids will love these wide-fit velcro shoes which come with the prettiest floral design.

Boys junior shoes, £58, Kickers


The large velcro strap on these Kicker school shoes makes them great for younger children, and they can be easily adjusted for the most comfortable fit. 


Teenage shoes need to be more than just fashionable

For teens, look for shoes that will be hard-wearing. Shoes with scruff-resistant leather are great for those with a penchant for dribbling a football around the playground, while back-collar padding helps shoes keep their shape no matter how many times they get kicked on and off.

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School shoes for teenage girls, £57.50, Geox


The Geox Casey Girl shoes are breathable and comfortable - and there are tons of sizes to choose from. 

Kids' leather lace-up school shoes, from £34, Marks & Spencer


These lace-up shoes are so practical - and the durable design ensures long-lasting wear.


If trainers are allowed, choose wisely!

For trainers, look for styles with antibacterial technology to keep feet fresh, even after several laps of the athletics track.

Clarks children's scooter speed school shoes, £50, John Lewis


Made with chunky bumpers and gripping outsoles, these Clarks school shoes are made to last. 

Nike Court Borough trainers, £40, Schuh


Children and teenagers of any age are guaranteed to love these Nike trainers, and the online reviews are glowing. 

Check the school shoes fit - here's how

Once your children's shoes have arrived, don't remove any labels until you've checked that they do fit, preferably in a carpeted room. First, test for the heel grip by holding the ankle with one hand and pulling down gently on the heel of the shoe. Does it slip or stay in place?

Use your fingers to feel around the top of the shoe and check there are no gaps, especially between the shoe and the heel. Then, feel around the ankle to make sure the shoe does not touch the anklebone, as, if it does, it could rub.

MORE: Get ready for Back to School with Marks & Spencer's huge school uniform sale

Finally, feel the top of the shoe to locate the end of your child's longest toe. Apply a little pressure to check the toe is not pressing against the end of the shoe. There should be a little growing room – but not too much.

Georgia chunky brogues, from £55, Dune


Dune has just released its first kids' footwear collection, focusing on school shoes, trainers and mini versions of signature styles for girls. These velcro-strap brogues feature comfortable sock padding and a shiny patent finish - so they'll make the perfect school shoe. 

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