Wednesday 7 December 2016

Majority of mothers suffer back-to-school money troubles

Published 28/07/2015 | 02:30

At the launch of the ‘Back-to-School’ Insights 2015 were Laura Haugh, Mum-in-Residence with MummyPages.ie, and triplets Olivia, Lauren & Cliona O’Flanagan (4) from Portlaoise
At the launch of the ‘Back-to-School’ Insights 2015 were Laura Haugh, Mum-in-Residence with MummyPages.ie, and triplets Olivia, Lauren & Cliona O’Flanagan (4) from Portlaoise

More than 60pc of Irish mothers are struggling financially because of back-to-school expenses, with most of them reporting "colossal stress" as a result.

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Technological advances in some schools have led to 'stealth charges' being incurred which even dwarf the cost of the traditional school book list.

According to a new report, a child in primary school will cost the average family €2,211 a year. The costs rise considerably when a child goes to secondary school, spiralling to €3,375 on average.

The figures include estimates for all school-related costs - from books, uniforms, voluntary contributions, registration fees and after-school activities.

They also incorporate the cost of technology, such as e-books, sports equipment and school transport.

However, the figures do not include after-school care, which can add a further €4,000 to the working parents' back-to-school bill.

A full 80pc of mothers reported that they found the cost of school to be "expensive" compared to just 63pc last year, according to Back to School Insights 2015 - a comprehensive report published by Mummypages.ie, an online resource for parents.

And 60pc say the cost of footing the September bills leaves them struggling financially.

Of these, 89pc say they are suffering "colossal stress" as a result, according to Laura Haugh, Mum-in-Residence at Mummypages.

Rising

She said the main problem for parents is that these costs come "all at once", with no phased scheme for payment which might allow them to pay off the bills gradually.

Ms Haugh said the rising back-to-school costs can be explained by the fact that many schools now require that parents pay for technological advances - like purchasing iPads or contributing to the cost of such devices.

They are also being asked to pay for school book downloads - an additional charge which does not appear on the book list, she said.

One mother with a child attending a school that has developed a specific homework IT programme, told the survey that it "costs more for the softwear than it did for the laptop".

The same school requires that children have a printer at home with coloured ink for pie charts and graphics.

Ms Haugh called on the Government to look at the findings and "get more involved" in the education system.

"They seem to be very hands-off, keeping teachers happy with pay deals rather than dealing with issues like the curriculum, funding and just listening to parents," she said.

"If they've got all these parents saying they're struggling financially, they need to take action."

Meanwhile, the report showed mothers want a radical revamp of the school curriculum to enable their children to cope with day-to-day living.

An overwhelming 96pc want children to be taught ways to cope with stress and 48pc want their children to learn mundane but essential skills - like how to sew on a button or grow vegetables.

Irish Independent

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