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The complete school shoe buying guide


Your kids work hard and play hard in their school shoes, so it’s important you know exactly what to look for when shopping to make sure you get the perfect shoe for them at the best value for money.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about buying your child the perfect pair of school shoes, including:

  • – What to look for in a school shoe
  • – How to make sure you’re buying the right size
  • – How long you should expect school shoes to last
  • – How much you should spend on school shoes
  • – When is the best time to buy school shoes
  • – How to clean school shoes
  • – What the best brands of school shoe are

Read on to find out everything you need to know to find the best pair of school shoes for your child, as well as how to keep them in tip-top condition for as long as possible.

How to buy the right school shoes for your child


First and foremost, children’s shoes need to be comfortable, durable, and smart. But when kids start approaching their adolescence, they’ll probably be looking for something a bit more stylish as well. Here’s everything you need to know to pick the perfect shoe for your little one.

Does your child find them comfortable?

This is always the most important thing to consider, and should be prioritised above everything else. If your child continuously wears ill-fitting shoes at a young age, it could affect the development of their bones and cause permanent damage. Furthermore, if their shoes are uncomfortable, it will affect their ability to play and concentrate in class, and it’s likely to cause them distress.

Finding the right size school shoe for your child

To ensure your child is wearing the correct size shoe, it’s crucial that you have their feet measured. This should be done every time they need new shoes — don’t just assume that they need the next size up, as they may need a wider or narrower fit than before, or might have even jumped two sizes.

Choosing the right size shoe can be confusing, as sizes are not standardised across all brands. Children’s shoes are available in half sizes and different width fittings to ensure the best fit possible. It is always best to get your child’s feet measured by a fitting expert in one of our stores to make sure your child is getting the most comfortable and well fitted shoes for their feet.

When fitting shoes, experts incorporate growing room for movement and growth to ensure they are comfortable and will last as long as possible.

What are the best materials for school shoes?

Natural uppers such as real leather are durable as well as breathable. They are long lasting and can be protected and even repaired.

Synthetic leather is also commonly used for school shoes. Shoes made from synthetic leather are also hard-wearing and also water resistant.

You may prefer patent leather which is easy to clean and has a hi-shine finish. Although patent leather is durable, once scuffed it is more difficult to repair than some other materials.

Another common material is canvas, which is a great choice for the summer due to its breathability. The soles will usually be made of rubber, which can be easily cleaned of the toughest stains with a damp cloth or wet wipe.

Make sure the shoes you buy your child have flexible and padded soles which are forgiving on their feet when they run and play. If your child plays football in their playtimes, make sure their shoes are hard-wearing enough to be able to endure this.

Are they the right style?


The first thing you need to consider when choosing the style of your child’s shoes is the guidelines their school has for footwear. Almost every school will demand that students wear ‘smart shoes’. What constitutes a smart pair of shoes changes as the child gets older.

Many schools will have no rules other than the shoes need to be black and cannot be trainers, but some schools may be stricter. Check their guidelines before you buy to avoid wasting money on an unsuitable pair of shoes.

The essential characteristics of a school shoe

For younger children, look for a shoe with a rip-tape fastening, which they’ll be able to take on and off on their own which is durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of play. Make sure they give ample support to the foot and have a comfortable, cushioned sole. Shoes for younger children may have detailing such as football players or floral designs — make sure these will be suitable under the school’s guidelines before you buy them.

For older children — are they stylish?

When kids reach their teenage years, they become a lot more style-conscious, so they’ll likely be looking for something which looks good as well as feels comfortable. Some schools may be happy for their students to wear a pair of black leather Converse or Vans, but make sure of this before you spend the money on them.

To find some great-looking shoes for older children, take a look at our brand highlights below.

Are they suitable for the weather?

Keep the time of year in mind when buying school shoes. For example, your daughter won’t want to be wearing sandals in the winter, and those chunky boots might be too heavy for the summer.

School shoes FAQs

Before you make your purchase, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about school shoes. As they’re so important in your child’s development, it’s important to know exactly what to look for when you go to buy so you always make the best purchase. Read on to find out everything else you need to know about buying and maintaining school shoes for your child.

How long should school shoes last?

How long your child’s school shoes last will depends on the rate at which their feet grow. What’s most important to pay attention to is the way in which your child’s shoes wear down. The wear should be on the outside of the corner of the heel, and even at the front of the shoe. If there is wear on the inside of your child’s sole, this is an indication that they aren’t walking correctly. If you notice this, you should mention it to your GP, as they’ll be able to refer you to a podiatrist who will be able to correct the problem before it develops into something more serious.

How much do school shoes cost?

As with anything, there are school shoes to suit any budget. Keep in mind that buying a cheaper pair of shoes for your child could end up costing you more in the long run if they don’t last due to poor quality.

You need to look at your budget and decide how much you can afford to pay for your child’s school shoes, bearing in mind that they may need replacing before you would have hoped if your child has a growth spurt. Of course, you need to ensure that any shoes you buy for your child are comfortable first and foremost, and if it costs a bit more than you would like to find a shoe your child is going to be comfortable in, it will be worth the expense in the long run. Make sure to take a look on the Government’s website to see if you are eligible for any form of financial aid to help you afford necessities such as school shoes.

Shoes need to be the wearer’s right size to provide the most comfort and support possible. Avoid the temptation to give your children hand-me-downs and make sure to get shoes which fit your child’s feet exactly.

When should I buy school shoes?

It’s extremely common to have to replace your child’s school shoes during the summer holidays, whether due to wear or a growth spurt. To avoid the crowds you could go early in the summer. You don’t have to worry about your child growing out of them too soon as fitting experts will allow as much growing room as possible without compromising on support and fit.

Alternatively, you could go in the last few weeks of the summer holidays, but the shops will be busier, and they may not have the style your child’s first choice in stock.

Make an appointment …

We always recommend getting your shoes fitted by an expert in store and booking an appointment is an excellent way to beat the queues, but if you are unable to visit a store then you can shop online. We have a wide range of boys’ and girls’ school shoes available on our online store which you can order today with free tracked delivery. We also offer free returns, so you can order with complete peace of mind.

How should I care for school shoes?

Before wearing, school shoes should be sprayed with a protector spray and then once a month thereafter to ensure they stay in the best condition possible.

School shoes are designed with durability in mind, and they’re often easy to wipe down with a damp cloth or wet wipe. If this doesn’t do the job you could try a cleaning product specifically designed for the material the shoes are made from. If they state they are machine washable you can put them through the washing machine at 30°C on the slowest spin speed. Some washing machines even have a specific shoe setting for this purpose. Make sure you give them plenty of time to dry out after cleaning.

Occasionally shoes will get scuffed or damaged but there are repair and renovating products you can use to help maintain your child’s shoes.

How do I remove the unpleasant smell from school shoes?

If your child’s school shoes begin to smell unpleasant, you can remove the odour by pouring a small amount of bicarbonate of soda in them on an evening and then removing it before they are worn again. Many school shoes benefit from antibacterial footbeds, whilst leather wicks the moisture away unlike synthetic uppers. Clarks in particular use Agion, an antimicrobial that helps prevent the growth of bacteria.

The smell may be caused by a build-up of bacteria, so a natural antibacterial agent, such as tea-tree oil, could remove it.

Do school uniforms include shoes?

Usually, the designated school uniform does not include shoes, and you’ll have to buy them for your child separately. As stated earlier, it’s important that you check the school’s guidelines for footwear before you buy, to make sure that you buy appropriate shoes for your child.

Brand highlights

To help you navigate the wealth of school shoes available, here is our selection of the best shoes from the best brands. Any shoe from this selection will be durable and comfortable for your child, and we’ve picked out the perfect shoes for ages 5 all the way up to 16.

Boys’ school shoes


If you’re looking for school shoes for your son, you can’t go wrong with any of these brand highlights. If you’re after more choices, take a look at our full range of boy’s school shoes.


Clarks is one of the leading names when it comes to children’s shoes for good reason — they have a long history of producing top-quality footwear for a wide range of ages. They have a vast selection of durable shoes with easy-to-fasten Velcro straps for infants, a great range of comfortable shoes for juniors, and plenty of stylish options for teenagers too. No matter what the age of your child, Clarks is a great brand to check out.

Our top picks:
Clarks-Jetsky-Fun Clarks-Monte Clarks-Willis


Kickers is also known for its fantastic range of school shoes. All of their footwear is built with practicality and comfort in mind, making them the perfect choice for boys from 5 through to 16. Made from durable materials and featuring a padded and comfortable sole, a pair of Kickers will stand up to the wear and tear your child puts them through.

Our top picks:
Kickers-Reasan Kickers-Racer Kickers-Reasan-Lace


Waterproof, breathable, and hard-wearing, Geox shoes are the perfect choice for a school shoe. The infant and junior models feature secure and supportive riptape straps and a rubber toe cap, making them durable enough to withstand games of football at lunchtime. For adolescents, they have a wide range of comfortable and mature leather shoes, perfect for school and even a first job interview.

Our top picks:
Geox-Svage Geox-Giant Geox-Federico


Startrite is another brand which has made its name making practical and comfortable shoes for boys of all ages. The comfortable and robust infants’ and juniors’ ranges are a great choice for boys up to the age of 10, while the senior boys’ range is a full of stylish designs perfect for more fashion-conscious teens.

Our top picks:
SR-Rhino SR-Sylan SR-Theo


Girls’ school shoes


If you’re looking for a pair of school shoes for your daughter, take a look at our brand highlights below. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, view our full selection of girls’ school shoes.

Lelli Kelly

Launched in 1992 in Italy, Lelli Kelly quickly became one of the most popular brands of shoes for young girls across Europe due to their quirky and fun designs. The selection of Lelli Kelly school shoes gives your daughter the chance to wear a she thinks looks great when she goes to school. This is great for parents too — if you already know your little one is comfortable in Lelli Kelly shoes, you can be confident when buying these school shoes.

Our top picks:
LK-Classic LK-Kimberly LK-Perrie


Kickers’ adorable shoes are incredibly popular with younger girls, especially the attractive patent leather models. Comfortable and cute, these are the perfect school shoe — the breathable T-bar sandal is great for the summer, and the shoes and ankle boots are a great choice when it gets colder. The solid heel and substantial sole of these shoes also gives their wearer plenty of support, so they’ll be comfortable for your little one when she runs and plays.

Our top picks:
Kick-Chi Kick-Lo Kick-T


Clarks is famous for its comfortable, durable, high-quality school shoes for all ages, so it’s no surprise that it’s the go-to brand for most parents when it comes to back-to-school footwear. For infants and juniors, there’s a wide selection of attractive designs with hassle-free Velcro fastenings, and the range for seniors contains many comfortable and practical dolly shoes and lace-ups.

Our top picks:
Clarks-Trixi Clarks-Purley Clakrs-Sami


With a great range of school shoes suitable for girls aged 5 to 16, Start-rite is another brand which has earned its popularity by producing comfortable and stylish shoes for decades. Start-rite shoes always have ample heel support, making them great for the health of your child’s feet and helping to support their development. The shoes for younger girls are all practical and easy to wear, and for seniors, there are plenty of attractive designs in durable leathers.

Our top picks:
SR-Charlotte SR-Fleur SR-Burford

Angry Angels

Angry Angels produces a wide range of quirky shoes which are perfect for older girls, who are likely to be looking for a school shoe which is stylish as well as practical. They make an attractive range of brogues, dolly shoes, and lace-ups, which all feature a comfortable fit and top-quality, durable materials.

Our top picks:
AA-Impulsive AA-Runway AA-Eide

Keep these buying and maintenance tips in mind throughout your children’s time at school, and you’ll get the best value for money when choosing school shoes. If you’ve got any questions about picking the right shoes for your child which haven’t been answered in this guide, get in touch with our friendly team today.

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