Over €1,000 to send three children to school

THE cost of sending three children to school this autumn is likely to exceed €1,000, according to parents’ representatives.

And that’s just for the basics. Not included are the add-on costs of bus fares, lunches, school tours, extra-curriculum activities, and after-school care.

Chief executive of the National Parents Council (primary) Fionnuala Kilfeather said funding schooling often placed a huge financial strain on parents, “especially after the summer holidays when money is tight.”

This year some primary schools did not include prices in their book list, costing between €80 and €100, and added the voluntary contribution of around €45 to the sundries list. Ms Kilfeather said schools should ensure all book prices are given so parents could estimate the overall cost and shop around. The NPC urges schools to introduce schoolbook rental schemes because of the positive difference to overall cost. Participating students pay a flat fee for the year.

The Department of Education and Science has a schoolbooks grant scheme that is available to schools in disadvantaged areas.

This year the department allocated €3.79 million to primary schools. The money can be used to set up a schoolbook rental scheme.

There are still huge price differences for uniforms. While generic and custom-made uniforms are available, schools decide on their own style of dress.

The Department of Education has no policy on uniforms, but suggests that parents are consulted on clothing decisions. School uniforms cost around €100 while tracksuit prices vary between €37 and €45.

This year the Department of Social and Family Affairs allocated €16.8m to help parents on social welfare and health board payments with the cost of school clothing and footwear for the new year.

Last year the department allocated €15.2m and 156,000 children benefited. This year parents will get €80 for each child aged between two and 11 years and €150 for each child aged between 12 and 22.

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