As summer holidays commence, timetables relax and fun takes over, the last thing on your mind is finding those perfect school shoes.
An arduous task for any parent, particularly if you’re shopping for more than one child, but now this task can be done without having to leave the sofa.
It’s important to bear in mind a few things before your pairing pursuit and first off we urge parents to involve their offspring.
If your child is just starting out this is the perfect opportunity to spark the excitement for school. While many schools differ on the ruling of types of acceptable school shoes (remember to check the school’s uniform guidelines first!) allowing your child to get involved in the process will ultimately mean a choice where all parties happy.
It’s imperative to get your child’s feet measured before making the purchase, gone are the days when this means a trip to your local shoe shop, lots of shoe retailers have online tools and print out sheets to make sure you select the right size.
You don’t want pinching toes or rubbing blisters before the first week back is over.
We tested a whole host of styles to suit boys and girls, covering everything from the first day of school, through to the last.
We marked them against style, durability, sizing and price, but most importantly comfort, school is challenging enough without uncomfortable school shoes added into the mix.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
If you’ve got young children (sizes go up to roughly eight years), Bobux is a brand worth having on your radar. The latest addition to its reputable school shoes is the Piper; offering that classic Mary Jane style but bringing it into the modern world. Speaking of the present, Bobux also allows you to have your child’s feet measured through Strutfit, a website where you can measure feet. All you need to do is take a picture of the feet and you’ll be sent a unique code with the correct size. The shoe itself isn’t too rigid or stiff, designed with a highly flexible sole that supports a child’s natural movement, and made from a premium leather which is impressively soft considering its durability. We were impressed how scuff resistant these are too, as they have a protective coating coupled with reinforced toe-caps which helps keep these looking tip top, perfect if you’re hoping to pass down to younger siblings.
Buy now £55.00, Bobux
Meet the smartest “trainer” on the market. For a company that only launched two years ago, Treads purely focus on school shoes, which allows it to do so brilliantly. The brand’s aim was to apply the materials and technology used in the making of construction footwear into everyday school shoes and the result is they’re seriously sturdy. The casual leather Brooklyn lace ups feature a padded heel collar and cushioned foam footbed which is as comfortable as it sounds. The dual fitting system means by removing the insole you have yourself a wider fit, but what impressed us the most was the 12-month guarantee. Every pair of Treads shoes come with a guarantee, so if you’re not happy with how your kicks are performing, you can get your money back – we don’t think you’ll need to as this confidence really shows in these super impressive shoes.
Buy now £45.00, Treads
Start Rite bolt shoes
Start Rite has been making shoes since 1792 so the brand has had years of practice on getting it right. And it certainly has with these Bolt boy’s school shoes. The brand has produced a casual school shoe with a comfortable fit, excellent durability and an anti-bacterial breathable lining for keeping little feet fresh! The rip-tape fastening makes it easy to take on and off on their own, but what impressed us the most is how hardwearing these kicks are. The leather ensures scuff-resistant colour while the vulcanised rubber sole minimises wearing. It’s also worth mentioning how precise the fitting is with Start Rite shoes, available in half sizes you also select the foot’s width choosing from four options from narrow to extra wide. Either order a foot gauge or print out a paper measuring gauge – we found this very accurate.
Buy now £44.99, Start Rite
Clarks scala lace youth black leather
Many moons ago Clarks was ruling the school shoe market singlehandedly and while there are now many more strong competitors it’s safe to say they still come up trumps. We tested the scala lace youth black leather shoes and were not disappointed. You can easily find the perfect fit with four width choices and half sizes too. The brogue detailing looks smart and the soft padded collars and lightweight profile means these make a great choice for senior school.
Buy now £50.00, Clarks
Russell and Bromley Alexa tassel loafer
For girls in senior school there’s no doubt they’ll be yearning after a pair of loafers from shoe extraordinaire Russell & Bromley. The heritage style of the Alexa loafers is timeless, and while it comes with a price tag you can’t deny the craftmanship that goes into every pair. This double tasselled loafer is made with super soft black calf leather in Italy and is coupled with a sturdy manmade rubber sole which offers a comfortable fit – you really cannot fault the quality of these shoes.
Buy now £85.00, Russell & Bromley
Next black leather single strap shoes
You may be familiar with the difficulty of finding school shoes once your child hits senior school age. We were impressed with the range of school shoes that Next has on offer, particularly for older children. We put these smart slip-on style shoes through its paces; the chunky fastening means they’re quick and easy to put on and off, and we were happy to hear that even at a lower price point they’re made from leather so look smart but wear well too. Across the school shoe range Next has applied odour-repelling technology and we have found that has certainly kept them fresher for longer. Available in two widths and half sizing.
Buy now £28.00, Next
Kickers adlar t infant
We hadn’t handled a pair of Kickers since the 90s, and were surprised by its fantastic school shoe offering from nursery through to senior school. We were nervous that the patent style shine on the Adlar T Infant would last a matter of days, but the premium patent leather uppers has maintained that high-shine finish (so far at least!). The hook and loop fastener also means they’re easy to put on and take off, without parents’ involvement. But our favourite bit? The sweet applique butterfly, it’s a subtle addition but something kids adore. You’ll also get a free drawstring bag with every order.
Buy now £45.00, Kickers
Bobux has done a great job here at creating a casual yet smart leather school shoe, which means we’ve been able to get use from them beyond the playground. The adjustable hook and loop straps ensure a comfy and snug fit, and we were impressed by how robust the reinforced stitching is, giving added protection in those areas that tend to wear well (heels, toes etc) without making the shoes too rigid or stiff to wear. We also think these make a great gender-neutral choice – handy for sharing between siblings.
Buy now £55.00, Bobux
Dr. Martens junior 8065 leather
You don’t get much more recognisable than Dr. Martens, and we love the look of its take on the Mary Jane. A traditional style which has been brought into the modern world, these shoes scream playground pizazz. You’ll notice the brand’s DNA such as the side grooves and visible stitching, but these aren’t just about looks… the cushioned insole, padded collar and flexible air-cushioned outsole ensure maximum comfort. We love the style of the double horseshoe buckles, but in a practical way these are a little fiddly so we’d recommend them to those aged seven plus who are more confident with doing up their own shoes.
Buy now £60.00, Dr. Martens
The verdict: Kids' school shoes
The super smart Bobux Piper is comfortable enough to wear all day long – honestly our four-year-old tester doesn’t want to take them off – and we love that young kids can wear them independently making them a winner in this category. Treads also deserve a huge pat on the back for creating seriously sturdy yet comfy school shoes that older children happily wear with no squabbles.