Parents facing costs of up to €735 to send one child back to school

Parents facing costs of up to €735 to send one child back to school

Parents are facing costs of up to €735 to send just one child back to school next month. ©Patrick Bolger Photography.

Parents are facing costs of up to €735 to send just one child back to school next month.

The annual Barnardos Back to School survey found that the basic cost of sending a child to school in 2020 is €330 for a senior infants pupil, €365 for a fourth class pupil and €735 for a first year pupil.

The figures include the costs of school books and stationery, classroom resources, voluntary contributions and uniforms.

Overall, the costs at primary level are slightly down on last year while costs at secondary level remain unchanged.

A total of 1,765 parents responded to the 2020 Barnardos Back to School survey which was conducted earlier in July.

It also found that two in five primary school parents and half of secondary school parents said they have to cut back, avoid paying other bills or borrow money to pay for their child’s education.

They survey showed while the vast majority of parents think it is important for their children to return to school, 50% (primary) and 53% (secondary) are worried; with 16% (primary) and 21% (secondary) actually saying they would prefer if their child was not returning to school to reduce their risk of contracting Covid-19.

The majority of parents felt they had insufficient information about their child’s return to school and what the day would look like (73% primary, 65% secondary).

“We are now calling on the government to outline how they are going to ensure the implementation of this plan in all schools and offer the required supports to roll out this plan," said Suzanne Connolly, Barnardos CEO.

A tandem survey of 255 children and young people found that while children are eager to see their friends and get back to learning in a school setting, many are worried about contracting Covid-19 or passing it to a loved one.

Two out of five children said they feel positively about returning to school, but one in five feel negatively.

More than a quarter (27%) of children said they did not have enough time on a computer, tablet or phone to do their work.

Barnardos have made a number of recommendations following the completion of the survey including equalising the threshold for Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance for one and two parent families.

They are also calling for the provision of clear implementation guidelines and timelines to schools to accompany the Roadmap for Reopening Schools and the Wellbeing Guidance document to ensure a coherent response across the school system and give clarity to parents.

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