IT COSTS PARENTS an average of €275 for secondary school books per child, and €800 in total school costs, a survey has indicated.
Children’s charity Barnardos has published its annual school costs survey, which asked over 1,800 parents about the pressures they experienced in affording school care.
On average, parents of primary school children pay €85 per child on books, whereas they pay a total of €395 in school costs per year.
The survey also showed that there was far greater access to primary school book rental schemes than there was for secondary schools.
71% of primary school parents had access to a rental scheme compared to just 37% of secondary school parents, and pay around twice as much in order to rent them.
The survey asked parents about clothing, footwear, stationery, and voluntary contributions.
A plain, non-crested uniform can be bought in only 14% of primary schools and only 1% in secondary schools. The remainder of children attend a school with no school uniform.
The average cost of a school uniform at primary level is €95 and €190 at secondary level.
Fewer parents are being asked to pay a voluntary contribution this year, but significantly more parents are being asked to pay mandatory classroom resources fees (which includes things like art materials and mathematical instruments).
The survey doesn’t include costs to do with school bags or sports equipment.
The impact of school costs means 45% of parents had to forgo other bills or cut back on daily essentials.
In response to the survey, one parent said:
Books should be provided free to students, and there should be no examination fees. Schools expect too much support from parents through fundraising… Many parents are already hard-pressed.
“The State should be providing all that is needed in order for a school to function successfully instead of making the school go to the parents.”
Barnardos has called on the government to invest €103.2 million in primary schools over a three-year period, beginning with €20 million to cover school book costs.
It has also asked for €126.9 million annually to make secondary education free for all children.
The 2018 Budget will be announced in October of this year.