20% of parents don't want their children to return to school

Despite their concerns, almost all parents believe it is important for their children's development to return to school. 
20% of parents don't want their children to return to school

50% of parents to children in secondary school say they are either cutting back on other costs, not paying bills, or taking out loans to cover back to school costs. File picture

A fifth of parents do not want their children to return to school next month for fear of them catching Covid-19.

And overall, half of all parents are worried about their children going back in the middle of the pandemic, according to the Barnardos Back to School survey.

However, almost all concede it is important for their children’s emotional and social development as well as their mental health that, over five months after they left their classrooms, they are able to get back to their desks.

The children, too, have mixed feelings. The survey found that while they are eager to see their friends and get back to learning in a school setting, many are worried about contracting Covid-19 or passing it on to a loved one.

Barnardos chief executive Suzanne Connolly said this year the charity changed the survey to reflect the difficult circumstances parents and children found themselves in.

It found that parents are concerned about keeping their children safe in school, particularly how social distancing will be ensured.

“The survey, which was conducted early in July, found parents were united in their frustration with the lack of clarity or information coming from Government,” said Ms Connolly.

Most parents (73% primary and 65% secondary) felt they did not have enough information about how their children would spend their time at school.

As to how both parents and children have coped with homeschooling over the last four months, parents said it has been difficult to balance work and monitoring their child’s schoolwork.

While half of them felt they were sent the right amount of work by their schools, over a quarter felt they did not receive enough support from their child’s school.

More than half of parents incurred additional costs because their children were not in school from March to June.

The survey also found that the pressure of paying for children’s education has not abated.

While costs have largely remained static since last year, parents are still finding the weight of the costs a lot to bear, and it is too much for some.

The basic cost of sending a child to school in 2020, while slightly decreasing for parents of primary school children, remains substantial.

The average cost of the basics needed for a senior infants pupil is €330; a fourth-class pupil is €365; and a first-year pupil is €735.

A significant number of parents (41% primary and 50% secondary) say they are either cutting back on other costs, not paying bills, or taking out loans to cover back to school costs.

Of those who had to borrow money to cover the cost, 31% took out a loan from a credit union or bank; 29% used credit cards; 27% borrowed from family or friends, and most worryingly, 13% borrowed from a money lender.

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