Parents forced to ignore bills to cover €735 back-to-school costs

Nearly half of parents say they will cut back or not pay a bill to meet school costs, writes Jess Casey.

Parents forced to ignore bills to cover €735 back-to-school costs

Nearly half of parents say they will cut back or not pay a bill to meet school costs, writes Jess Casey.

Parents are forgoing paying bills to subsidise our free education system as back-to-school costs leave families worrying about having enough money for September, Barnardos has warned.

With parents of first-year students set to pay €735 to send their child to school next month, 43% of parents say they will cut back or not pay a bill in order to cover their costs, a survey carried out by the national children’s charity has found.

A further 10% of parents said they will borrow money, and 9% will dip into their savings.

The annual analysis by Barnardos of the back-to-school costs of 1,400 parents also found it will cost €380 to send a child into fourth class, and €340 to send a senior infant back to school.

School books remain a major expense for parents, costing on average €215 for first-year students, €90 for fourth-class pupils and €75 for senior infants.

More than half of the parents of primary school students surveyed, and almost half of those with children in secondary school, also reported an increase in the cost of books this year.

In July, the Government was advised to introduce generic uniforms into schools in a bid to keep costs down for parents. However, the vast majority of parents (82%) this year reported that they are still required to buy crested or branded uniforms for their children.

Parents are also still being asked to pay voluntary contributions, despite a 5% increase in capitation fees, the survey also found.

“The substantial financial cost of sending a child to school means access to education is not free and anything but equal,” said Barnardos chief executive Suzanne Connolly.

Barnardos is now calling on the Government to introduce free school books as part of Budget 2020, and for a commitment to invest an extra €103.2m annually in primary school education.

“Providing free books for all children would cost a minuscule amount in terms of the Department of Education’s overall budget (0.2%) but it would have a transformative impact in terms of all children starting off with the same resources,” Ms Connolly said.

School costs will be discussed as part of the Student and Parent Charter Bill, due to be published shortly, according to a Department of Education spokesman.

“It will require schools to consult with students and parents and invite them to offer feedback on issues such as costs and suggest changes to help reduce costs.”

The back-to-school allowance increased by €25 for the upcoming school year, he added.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.