Parents are 'bearing the brunt' of an underfunded education system 5 years ago

Parents are 'bearing the brunt' of an underfunded education system

As if parents weren't stretched enough at this time of year, back-to-school costs are on the rise again.

education Barnardos school costs survey

According to the latest Barnardos school survey, 45 percent of parents have had to forgo other bills or cut back on daily expenses in order to cover the essentials required for their children to complete the curriculum.

The charity's head of advocacy, June Tinsley, says that parents are bearing the brunt of an underfunded education system once again:

"This year over 1,800 parents took the Barnardos' School Costs Survey. Parents are yet again stressed and over-burdened by back to school costs. It affects so many families, not just those on low incomes.

The impact of these mounting costs mean many parents are forgoing other bills, cutting back on daily essentials or ending up in debt in order to ensure their children have all they need for the new school year."

Barnardos have previously appealed for more schools to adopt book rental schemes and to consider relaxing their school uniform policies in order to take the pressure off parents. One parent told the survey that schools' financial expectations of parents are too high:

"Books should be provided free to students, and there should be no examination fees. Schools expect too much support from parents through fundraising etc, 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."

education Barnardos school costs survey

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In a statement on the findings Barnardos says that some schools have been more proactive than others in reducing costs for parents:

"Many parents were aware of the Minister's circular to schools to take a more proactive approach in reducing the burden of costs on parents and were disappointed not to have felt any benefit this year. Again some schools were more proactive than others and subsequently this variation across schools is a major source of frustration for parents.

The inaction by schools was often seen as a result of lack of funding by the Government to adequately resource the running of the school and thereby passing on some of the savings to the parents."

The annual survey found parents of primary school pupils are shelling out on average between 50 and 100 euro on books while one-fifth of parents of secondary school pupils pay in excess of 300 euro. Parents are also spending an average of 95 euro on uniforms at primary level and between 150 and 200 euro for them at secondary level.

education Barnardos school costs survey

Fewer parents are being asked to pay a voluntary contribution this year but significantly more parents are being asked to pay the mandatory classroom resources fees.

Ms Tinsley says that October's Budget is an opportunity for the Government to make education more affordable:

"Education unlocks potential but the State is denying many children the key because it is failing to see its fundamental role in ensuring the education system is adequately funded to ensure all children have what they need to learn the curriculum.

No other public service has to subsidise their funding to keep the show on the road, so why should the Department of Education expect schools to have to undertake extensive fundraising activities from parents and staff to fund necessities? Budget 2018 must take the first step towards making education free for all children by providing free books for all pupils in primary school."