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Schools must help parents to cut costs

THE return of tens of thousands of children to school within the next few weeks brings a major financial headache for parents. Families already under severe financial pressure will now have to find the money to pay for schoolbooks, bags -- and uniforms.

Cash-strapped parents are being forced by four out of every five schools to buy their children's uniforms in designated shops.

This can add enormously to the cost when primary schools insist on maintaining the same standard of clothing across the board.

Costs soar too when the child moves into secondary school, with the price of jumper and blazers specific to schools increasing markedly. Some major supermarkets are offering generic school clothes which offer parents a major saving compared with department stores.

Boards of management should decide to allow parents to buy the uniform and school crest separately, allowing substantial savings.