Parents will pay up to €735 per child to cover back-to-school costs

A new study by Barnardos reveals that parents will be forced to pay up to over €700 per child to cover back-to-school costs this autumn.

According to multiple reports, a study by the children's charity has found that parents will spend between €395 and €795 per child before the school year begins.

School costs and other fees are down slightly from last year, according to the report, however, the online survey of almost 1,500 parents found many are forced to put off paying bills or cut back on essentials like food and heating in order to buy school clothes and books.

It says the average parent of a child in senior infants pays €340 for school uniforms, shoes, books, stationery, classroom resources and the so-called voluntary contribution to the school for general operating costs. This is only down by €20 compared to last year, while parents of children in fourth class are paying an average of €380 a year for the same supplies. This figure has not changed since 2018.

Parents with children in secondary school can expect to pay the heftiest fees of up to €735 per child this year, a mere €10 less than in 2018.

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The study also found that 43% of parents will cut back or not pay a bill in order to cover their costs.

"Struggling"

“Summertime should be a time spent on the children but instead it is spent worrying about having enough for September, all year round, education leaves us with nothing left, and struggling," said one parent according to the report. "I have been buying school supplies and uniform pieces since March to ensure I have everything for September. The uniform allowance is saved to pay for her schoolbooks in September as the school gets the workbooks and books and then we pay them."

"I am not able to budget out of our regular household income to pay for my child going to school and will need to borrow money from the credit union to help me prepare her for secondary school,” added another.

"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 added they are 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,” she added.

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Main photograph: Pexels

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