By Jordi Bird – Podiatrist

It’s that time of year when you might be considering buying your child some new school shoes for the year ahead.

As your child will spend a lot of time in their school shoes, it is important to make sure the shoes are suitable for their rapidly developing feet.  While school shoes can be expensive, looking out for the right properties of a school shoe will save you money and help to maintain your child’s healthy feet.  Finding a good quality school shoe that lasts until they outgrow them is much more preferable than replacing your child’s footwear several times with lower quality options.

Here are my top five tips for purchasing school shoes so your child can put their best foot forward this year:

1. The material the shoes are made from is important.
A leather upper allows your child’s foot to ‘breathe’ and is considerably more durable and longer-lasting than synthetic shoes.

2. Consider the design of the shoe.
A fastener (for example: lace ups, Velcro or buckles) allows the shoe to fit snugly on their foot.  This design is preferable over slip-on shoes which provide little or no support.  If your child is very active, a sportier runner-style school shoe is a good option.  However, before purchasing it’s a good idea to check your child’s school uniform policy to ensure this footwear style is permitted to be worn at their school.

3. Make sure the shoe is supportive.
The sole should be firm with good grip, but flexible around the toes for running and playing. A firm heel upper improves ankle stability and reduces the chance of ankle sprains.  A soft insole in the shoe with gentle arch support assists with daily comfort.

4. Check for right size – and you’re not just looking at the length of the shoe.
As your child’s feet grow it’s not just the length of their foot you need to be aware of, because there can also be rapid growth in the width and height of their foot too.  It is therefore advisable to have school shoes fitted by trained staff who can assess for this.

When checking the length of the shoe, ensure that there’s a thumb width in between your child’s longest toe (don’t just look at the big toe – see if their second or third toe is longer!) and the end of the shoe.  Your child should be able to move their toes naturally in the shoe without any rubbing.  The back of the shoe should be firm and cup their heel without sliding out during walking. Don’t be tempted to buy a pair of school shoes that are one or two sizes too big, so that your child can grow into them. Shoes that are too big can make your child walk with greater exertion and cause their feet to tire more quickly.

5. Keep in mind socks and any orthotics worn.
When you head out to the shops don’t forget to bring along your child’s socks that they will normally be wearing with their school shoes.  If your child wears specialist insoles or orthotics, bring them into the store as part of the shoe fitting.


If you need professional advice on your child’s foot health, please call 9430 9100 to make an enquiry or to book an appointment with one of our podiatrists.  Waiting times and eligibility criteria may apply.