Barnardos: 1,400 parents say enough is enough

1,400 Parents Have Their Say on School Costs

Summer time should be a time spent on the children but instead it is spent worrying about having enough for September…the cost of education leaves us with nothing left, and struggling

(Primary School Parent, Barnardos School Costs Survey 2019)

Barnardos’ Annual School Costs Survey has found parents continue to pay substantial costs in getting their children ready to return to school each September. Barnardos is calling on the government to take the first step in providing free education by introducing free school books, at the miniscule cost of just 0.2% of the overall education budget, for all primary school children in Budget 2020.

Suzanne Connolly, Barnardos CEO, said: “Every year for more than a decade parents have been telling Barnardos- through our School Costs Survey- that their children’s back to school costs places a significant financial burden upon them.

This year over 1,400 parents took the Barnardos’ School Costs Survey.

“Once more it is clear from our survey that parents are stressed out, overburdened and fed up of subsidising our so called ‘free education’ system. The substantial financial cost of sending a child to school means access to education is not free and anything but equal.

“Developing a free education system will not happen overnight but the government must take the first step in creating a more equitable system. Providing free books for all children would cost a miniscule amount in terms of the Department of Education’s overall budget (0.2%) but it would have a transformative impact in terms all children starting off with the same resources.

“The underfunding of our education system has meant that parents are left trying to help schools meet shortfalls in funding through voluntary contributions. The government must provide adequate capitation fees to schools so that they no longer have to rely on additional contributions from parents who are already put to the pin of their collar.

“While we recognise the importance of school uniforms and how it can alleviate the pressures on both parents and children around clothes choices, the use of crested uniforms provides no added value and only adds financial pressures to parents in terms of school costs”.

This year’s survey found:

  • The basic cost of sending a child to school in 2019 remains substantial across primary and secondary: the average cost of the basics needed for a senior infants pupil is €340; a fourth class pupil is €380 and a first year pupil is €735
  • Many parents say they forgo paying bills and cut back on other costs to meet the costs of returning to school: 42% of primary school parents and 47% of secondary school parents. Worryingly 8% of primary and 14% of secondary school parents are forced to borrow money to cover school costs.
  • 51% of primary school parents and 46% of secondary school parents reported an increase in the cost of school books this year. However, the majority of those who avail of a book rental scheme have indicated that their contribution has remained the same – 62% and 71% respectively.
  • Despite a 5% increase in capitation fees parents are still being asked to pay a voluntary contribution: 67% of primary school parents have been asked for a voluntary contribution (same as last year); 69% of secondary school parents have been asked to pay a contribution (down 2% on last year)
  • Schools continue to ask parents to buy crested or branded uniforms with 75% of primary and 95% of secondary school parents reporting they are required to do so.

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

(Primary School Parent, Barnardos School Costs Survey 2019)



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