Cheap and cheerful or shell out for fitted? Which School Shoes?

Play Barefoot School Shoes

Which School Shoes?

This is the first time that I have bought school shoes – my son starts school in September and the choices became a minefield. Where do I choose to buy from? Cheaper brands off the shelf such as Marks and Spencer and Next, cheap and cheerful from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s or fitted Clarks, Start-rite or another brand sold at a specialist shop?

I started looking at boy’s school shoes, the day before school places were announced. I don’t know why, I suppose that it was the first time Bear starting school was ‘for real’. I googled all the main brands and then looked at random specialist brands and I hardly liked any of the styles! I think I’m a bit old fashioned in my thinking – I think this has come from being a Nanny for children who went to private school, where the rules can be much more strict and certain styles are not allowed, even some from a shop like Clarks. I much prefer shoes that look like shoes, not a pair of black trainers in disguise. I know that he will play football in them and have rough and tumble etc but at the end of the day, I believe that going to school and dressing smart for school, are the first building blocks for seeing how society works and learning that you need to be smart for work etc.

I also remember the annual (or maybe more often) trip to the shoe shop quite fondly as I grew up, for ‘proper’ fitted shoes. However, I will always remember being measured, picking out styles that I liked and the lady going to the back to see what they had in stock, in my size and the almost yearly disappointment that they didn’t have the ones I wanted!

There are a few independent and larger chain shoe shops in my area and I wasn’t sure where to go. I then asked my Facebook page, if anyone had recommendations. 

which school shoes

Nearly everyone preferred an old fashioned, dedicated shop that measured feet and fitted the shoes. Geox were mentioned particularly and another friend said the Sketchers school shoes lasted well. Only one friend said that she was buying cheap and cheerful and that was because no matter what she spent on her child’s shoes, they were wrecked in no time and so was going to spend less and replace more.

One thing that I’ve learnt from trying some on over the years, is that a lot of off the shelf shoes are just too narrow for my sons feet. I’ve occasionally thought about buying some cheaper pump type shoes for summer ‘knocking around’ but they’ve never fit well enough in my opinion. I’d love to buy some cool Converse High Tops but have been scarred from buying them due a friend’s experience – her son, aged about 2/3yrs old, was running and fell in a pair of high tops. He broke his leg. The orthopaedic consultant said that if he’d been wearing other shoes, he most likely wouldn’t have broken his leg because the high tops didn’t give adequate ankle support. 

So back to school shoes. In the end, I bought some entirely different shoes, on the basis of recommendation and style, from the internet! The company that I bought from had a printable size guide for size of foot and also width / instep but to be sure, I bought 2 sizes and returned the ones that didn’t fit.


Plae Barefoot shoes which school she's


The reason why I bought these shoes is because my friend is a Physiotherapist and she and her husband bought some ‘barefoot’ trainers for their son due to her knowledge about foot development and movement. When she told me that they had bought Barefoot school shoes, I had to have a look. I found that they have a bigger toe box, which allows children’s toes to be wider when they walk, than in a lot of shoes and the thinner (non puncturable) more flexible soles, allow for the right amount of ‘sensory feedback’ – sending messages to the brain they can feel the ground surface better, which helps children move and walk more naturally. Feet are soft until approximately 10 years old and can be made crooked by ill fitting or too tight shoes.  


Plae Barefoot School Shoes which school shoes

Plae barefoot school shoes which school shoes


The shoes I ended up buying are from a company called Plae. They sell some absolutely gorgeous shoes for both boys and girls. They look great  and are customisable for design and fit – you can buy different straps (Tabs) in 4 different lengths, allowing you to get the best fit for your child and their width of foot and height of instep. They are available in almost every colour, some metallic, cartoon like, cute, funky, sparkly, multi coloured, you name it. 

PLAE use biometric science usually reserved for elite athletes to create a range of shoes that are focused on helping little feet grow healthily. children’s feet are soft, and mainly formed of cartilage until adulthood. co-designed with an orthopaedic surgeon, plae are dedicated to creating footwear that find the balance between style and function.

Fingers crossed that they will last. They have a rubber toe guard which extends over the top of the shoe and should protect the leather from too many scuffs but I will let you know what I think of them. 


Plae Barefoot School Shoes which school shoes


What are your thoughts on school shoes or shoes in general? Do you always buy fitted or do you buy cheap and cheerful off the shelf? Do you believe that feet can be harmed by ill fitting shoes? I’d love to know your thoughts. 




Disclosure: I have no relationship to Plae and only wrote about the shoes because I like them and have an interest in Barefoot shoes for children. I paid full price for the shoes.


Plae Barefoot Shoes Which School Shoes



  1. Great post! I’ve got to get my son Brown shoes and have left it so late as usual! Not as much choice but they sell Start Rite ones at the place where his uniform comes from so hopefully will measure etc. The shoes you got look fab and hopefully they will wear well. Good luck with the start of school! Xx

    1. Thank you. If you’ve got to get brown and your uniform comes from a shop, I’m hazarding a guess that it’s private? Good luck for finding the right ones!

  2. Oh wow I love them, I also love the idea behind barefoot shoes and I think they are great. We have always had Geox shoes for my son and they have always last at least the year if not longer (his feet grow so slowly). For my daughter we bought some Start Rite shoes and she had ditched them before the first term was out, we stuck with them though and although the fronts didn’t look great they withstood every other test and so for us more expensive worked out well. I think if we’d gone for cheaper pairs we’d have bought more and probably ended up spending the same.

  3. Interesting read Hannah, we would advise, we’ve been buying our kids shoes from there for a while now as they never complain about them being uncomfortable and they’re durable products!

  4. Visiting from the #weekendblogshare 🙂

    I’ve not heard the term “cheap and cheerful” before, is that a brand or a strategy of buying inexpensive shoes?

    I’ve always bought my daughter shoes that are durable but still reasonably priced. Specialty shops are really expensive here. The only parents I know who take their children to specialty shops are people who have children with developmental problems or diabetes or some other special foot concern. My daughter’s feet grow too fast too spend a lot on shoes. She’s eleven now and wears the same size shoe that I do and she’s never experienced any kind of problems resulting from shoes purchased at a regular retail store.

  5. We only ever purchase barefoot shoes for our son. We love See Kai Run, Bobux and Plae. He spent last winter in Plae boots (lined for warmth and waterproof) and they’ve held up so well that I’ve sold them on in excellent condition. I think it’s important to spend money on shoes that allow the foot to work properly.

  6. I hadn’t heard of these. I’m intrigued to hear how he gets on with them. We just got ours from Clarks but I like the idea of barefoot shoes, makes sense.

  7. I tend to buy from an independent shop too. His first school shoes were Superfit – really nice, and dual sized which meant they should have lasted for longer. But despite them meaning to be indestructable and having a big kick plate, he still wrecked them in one term. I don’t know how given their school only wear school shoes inside. He went through 3 pairs in the year, with the last pair after the summer half term a cheap pair from Tesco. They were ok, but as you say I agree many are narrow. And I’m not a fan of all the trainer styles either – although I’d say the ones your son has are quite trainer-y.

    We used to have barefoot shoes when he was a toddler, and they’re a great idea, I’m just not a particular fan of the styles available.

    If you’re writing any school themed posts, do come and link up over at my #schooldays linky which is back again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.