Friday 28 October 2016

One in 10 parents forced to go into debt to meet costs of sending children to school

Parents demand action to tackle school costs

Published 03/08/2016 | 02:30

Sam Morgan (7) and Cora Hannon (6) at the launch of Barnardos’ 11th annual School Costs Survey. Photo: Patrick Bolger
Sam Morgan (7) and Cora Hannon (6) at the launch of Barnardos’ 11th annual School Costs Survey. Photo: Patrick Bolger

Parents are demanding urgent action by the Government to deal with the burden of school costs.

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It comes as a new survey shows two out of five parents are skipping paying bills or cutting back on spending in a bid to fund the huge cost of uniforms, books, iPads and voluntary contributions.

One in 10 parents is forced to go into debt to pay for back-to-school costs, the Bernardos survey of 1,500 parents found.

Large numbers use their savings to fund the cost of schooling children, but many simply do not have the money available to dip into.

Bernardos said the overwhelming response to the survey of parents was that the Government must do more to ease the burden on families with school-goers.

The children's charity said it would cost just €103m a year to provide free books for primary school children and remove the voluntary contribution.

Bernardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said parents were being insulted with references to free education.

"They know education is far from free because they are the ones having to pay for it," Mr Finlay said.

But he added: "For just €103m, the Government could provide all primary school books, remove the voluntary contribution, eliminate classroom resources fees, restore the capitation rates back to 2010 levels, and provide free transport for those using the School Transport Scheme."

It would cost another €127m a year to make secondary education free for all children.

The survey found that parents are frustrated that some schools have book rental schemes, which massively cut down on the cost of books, but others do not.

Primary school parents are spending between €51 and €150 on school books.

More than half say book costs have gone up since last year. The average cost of secondary school books is more than €275.

Seven out of 10 parents of primary school parents have access to a book rental scheme.

But only four out of 10 have access to a book rental scheme at secondary level.

For the 12pc of school children using a tablet, this costs €550, with another €300 to download the books.

Uniforms cost between €51 and €150 at primary level, and between €126 and €225 at secondary level.

Voluntary contributions are around €100 for primary pupils, rising to €150 at secondary level.

Mr Finlay said the costs were too high.

Irish Independent

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