Parents fork out an average €1,023 to send each child to school

THE average cost of sending a child to school last year rose 5% to €1,023.

The National Parents Council (Primary) said some parents were paying more than twice that when participation in sports and school tours were taken into account. After-school childcare added on an average of €2,250.

Council chief executive Fionnuala Kilfeather said: “This is a worrying time of the year for many families as they set out on the extraordinarily expensive business of getting their children ready for ‘free’ primary education.”

The biggest expenses included getting to school every day, which costs an average of €277 for the 44% of families surveyed who avail of a school transport service.

After that, school uniforms were the most costly item, setting parents back an average of €71 per child this year but up to €250 in some cases. One-third of parents were able to buy uniforms in chain stores and more than 60% bought them in special stores.

Most parents also bought school tracksuits for their children, at an average cost of €34, while shoes and runners were an average of almost €80 per primary school pupil.

After clothing children and getting them to school, the largest basic bill is for school books, which can cost anything between €10 and €300.

Ms Kilfeather said half of parents buy both new and second-hand books and only 36% of surveyed parents had children in book rental schemes. However, the benefits were clear with the average cost of renting being €50, compared to €76 as the overall average for school books.

Some parents also paid up to €350 for school tours and an average of €76 for other items such as drama, sports and school equipment.

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