The real cost of 'free' education
PARENTS are struggling to meet the huge costs of sending children back to school, a new report has revealed.
Children's charity Barnardos said its 11th annual school costs survey paints a bleak picture of the primary and secondary education systems.
It shows that parents of first year secondary students are paying almost €800 to send their child to school, while parents of those in primary school are paying up to €400.
The survey found that the average cost of a clothing for a senior infants pupil is €95, while that increases to €105 for a fourth class pupil.
Uniforms for first year students could cost up to €200.
Meanwhile, shoes cost anywhere from €45 to €50 for primary school pupils and €65 for secondary school students.
Parents of primary school parents are paying an average of between €75 to €105 for books, while books for secondary school students could cost up to €290.
Voluntary contributions can cost up to €95 in primary schools, while parents of those in secondary schools are faced with a €150 expense.
Classroom resources are another expenditure that parents must factor in.
With the back to school clothing and footwear allowance standing at €100 for a child under 11 and €200 for an older child, it is clear that it does not fully cover the cost incurred by parents.
'We always imagine it's the children dreading back to school time the most, but year after year it's clear to Barnardos that parents are the ones suffering,' said CEO of Barnardos Fergus Finlay.
'This year nearly 1,500 parents took the Barnardos School Costs Survey.
'For the eleventh year in a row parents have opened up about their feelings of anger and frustration. They told us the lack of consistency in education costs is symptomatic of an education system which has inequality and unfairness at its core.'
Mr Finlay labelled the mantra of free education as 'an insult' and called on the government to reduce the costs faced by parents.