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Cost of dressing kids for private school in Australia


As the start of a new school year draws closer, it also marks the start of parents having to fork out for everything their kids will need – uniforms, textbooks, laptops and none of it comes cheap.

It follows news last week that it costs at least $95,000 to put a child through school in the public system, or almost triple for a private education at $378,000.

That’s almost $8000 for public students or $32,250 for private students each year… or if you go to Kambala in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, it’s $50,000 a year, making it Australia’s most expensive school.

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Kambala has been named as the most expensive school in Australia. (Supplied)

But before you take in the fees, books and extra-curricular expenses, how much does it cost just to dress kids for school?

The NSW department of education says parents will be set back anywhere between $250-$300 for public school uniforms, depending on how many pieces they choose to buy.

Prices for private school uniforms can skyrocket to more than double that.

At girls school Wenona on Sydney’s north shore, the school blazer is $222 alone. Throw in a hat, tie, shirts, skirts and dresses and parents are looking at over $900 – and that doesn’t even include shoes.

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Private high school uniforms can be double or triple the cost. (Getty)

While down the road at competing school Loretto Kirribilli, it’s a slightly cheaper $700 to stock up for the full summer and winter uniforms.

For boys’ schools, the cost is still high, with parents of St Aloysius in Milson’s Point forced to fork out just under $850 for the full uniform.

While across the harbour in Bellevue Hill, Cranbrook Boys private school is charging parents around $715 for a similar amount of clothing items.

To add a little more pain to parents’ back pockets, many boys schools include a compulsory cadets uniform which can cost up to $500 and only gets used for a couple of years. 

With these skyrocketing prices, it’s no surprise there’s been a huge rise in second-hand uniform co-ops opening up.

One of the most popular is The Uniform Exchange, which provides a free exchange service for parents to buy and sell pre-loved uniforms from 10,000 schools across Australia.

Susan Turner, who started the exchange 13 years ago, also runs one of the largest second-hand uniform stores in Sydney and says they’re being inundated with more and more parents seeking cheaper options for their kids.

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Susan Turner runs one of Australia’s biggest second-hand uniform shops. (Supplied)

“Every year it’s an increase without fail because more and more people are feeling the pinch,” Turner tells 9honey Parenting.

“I think people look at the overall cost of schooling, the cost of everything else and then they look at the cost of uniforms and this is one way they can actually save some money is with second-hand uniforms”.

Since she started, Turner has sold around half a million uniforms in her Sydney store and says there isn’t enough stock to keep up with the demand from parents. 

“I’ve got 15,000 second-hand uniforms in the shop [right now]… I could do with a much bigger shop.”

Susan stocks up to 15,000 second-hand uniforms in Sydney. (Supplied)

It’s not only second-hand stores parents are turning to.

Facebook Marketplace is also fast becoming a hidden gem for parents to grab a bargain, if they’re willing to drive across the city to get it.

A quick search on Marketplace will produce results for many private school uniforms – with parents also using the site as a chance to make some money back. 

Turner says it’s because uniforms are made to last longer than they’re ever needed.

“They are made differently because they’re made for children to be washed and worn,” she says.

“They’re in them so many days [180], and they have to be washed at least once or twice a week so they are made to last.”



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