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School uniform via Shutterstock
School Costs survey

Child missed 17 days of school because they had no lunch - Barnardos

Barnardos’ annual School Costs Survey has revealed that parents are continuing to struggle to meet the cost of sending their child to school.

CHILDREN’S CHARITY BARNARDOS has said that parents are struggling to cope with the high cost of sending their children back to school with it costing nearly €800 to send a child to secondary school, according to a new survey.

This is according to the charity’s eighth annual School Costs Survey which found that on average parents are paying €350 for a child in senior infants, €400 for children in 4th class in primary school and €785 for a child going into first year in secondary school.

In one case, one of the over 1,100 parents surveyed said that their child missed 17 days of school due to not having a lunch.

“How are the real poor people of Ireland to keep up with these costs. Secondary school costs scare the hell out of me already with three years to go,” the parent said.

Others directed criticism at Education Minister Ruairí Quinn with one parent saying: “[I] would like to see him survive on what I receive and send my three children back to school in September as I do without food in order to do this.”

Other parents pleaded for the introduction of a school book rental scheme.

According to Barnardos, school books and uniforms continue to pose the highest cost to parents with 68 per cent of parents of primary school pupils and 74 per cent of parents of secondary school pupils saying they have been asked for a voluntary contribution.

School transport costs are also identified as weighing heavily on parents’ budgets. More parents are availing of a school book rental scheme this year than last year but Barnardos has bemoaned the fact it is “by no means universal”.

“This means that in some cases, money paid by the State to schools for assisting with book costs is being used for other purposes,” the charity said in a statement.

This table breaks down the basic average costs for parents of senior infants, 4th class pupils and 1st year pupils:

(Click here if you are having trouble viewing this image)

Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said that parents are being forced to buy more expensive sweaters which have a school crest on them or in some cases he said they have to buy iPads or tablets.

He has called for the introduction of a school book rental scheme, a reduction in the number of uniform items with the school crest on them, and an end to 23 per cent VAT on e-textbooks.

Finlay said: “It is unacceptable that these issues are raised every year as parents are crippled with the financial strain and not enough is being done to address this by the Government and educational bodies.

“It is only increasing further inequality between pupils at a time when educating all our children should be a priority for the Government. Schools should be about ensuring children get the best education possible rather than ensuring they are wearing the full uniform.”

Infographic: The cost of sending a child to school in Ireland

Read: 110,000 families to receive the back-to-school allowance automatically

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