A survey by Save the Children and Family Action reveals 51 per cent of families who earn below £30,000 struggle to pay for their child's school uniform, PE kit, books and other equipment.
The research found that over half of these parents said they would cut back on paying bills and on food as a result. Nearly half are worried their children will stand out from other pupils.
The survey revealed a worse picture for families on incomes of £12,000 or less. Of this group half said buying new shoes would be a problem, while 28 per cent say their children will not be able to have a new winter coat. Over a quarter said they will have to borrow money.
Eleri Thomas, Save the Children's director for Wales, said: "Parents should not have to risk getting into debt or leaving their children without such basic essentials. The Government must ensure families who are struggling to afford school costs can at least get a uniform grant from their local authority."
The report is available here