In 2011, a typical Longford family will spend approximately €400 on each child when getting them ready to go back to school in September with back-to-school expenditure for a second-level student almost 50 percent higher than for a primary-level pupil.
As parents of school going children brace themselves ahead of the back to school shopping season, the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) has taken a look at what the costs for both primary and secondary school children are.
Their findings show that a typical Irish family spends approximately €400 on each child when getting them ready to go back to school in September. Irish parents are spending approximately (€470) for a second-level student and €320 for a primary level pupil. The overall cost for secondary school is almost 50 percent higher than for primary school.
School uniforms and books are perceived as a heavy burden for Irish parents. Parents of a secondary school child pay almost twice as much for schoolbooks (€238) than for a primary school child (€125). Costs of uniforms are perceived to be equally significant by both types of parents. Uniform costs for a secondary school child is on average €281 compared to primary at €177.
Extracurricular expenses can represent a noticeable financial burden for primary and secondary school children - primary school children at €145 secondary school children €152 on average.
Nine in 10 (88 percent) parents express a preference for laptops or e-book readers to become part of the in class educational experience. Laptop use is highly desired by Irish parents in both primary (87 percent) and secondary (89 percent) if it negates the cost of school books.
46 percent of parents use monthly income to source back to school necessities. However, 54 percent of parents are forced to locate finances for back to school from elsewhere – Credit Cards 16 percent / Savings percent / Back to School Allowance 12 percent / Credit Unions 7 percent (average)
Parents of secondary level children are more likely to dip into their savings (15 percent) or use credit cards (20 percent)
Almost two-thirds of parents (65 percent) admitted that back-to-school costs will adversely impact their holiday plans and bills management. Eight in ten parents (81 percent) who are entitled for back-to-school allowance admitted that this is insufficient
76 percent of parents are requested to make voluntary contributions that amount to €130 on average per child. While primary schools are more likely to request voluntary contributions (83 percent) than secondary (70 percent), secondary school parents are obliged to pay higher contributions (€158) than parents of a primary school child (€102).
Nine percent of Irish parents send their child(s) to a fee paying school (5 percent primary school and 13 percent secondary school). School fees on average stand at €1,750 for primary school and € 4,750 for secondary school.
When it comes to cutting back-to-school related costs 35 percent of those surveyed shop online for back to school items. Of this cohort, (61 percent) shop online for back-to-school items to save money; 35 percent felt it was more convenient to shop this way.
Four in ten parents (38 percent) feel pressured to buy branded school items over generic ones for their children
Dunnes Stores (28 percent), followed by Marks & Spencer (24 percent) is most popular for value-for-money school clothing followed by Pennys 19 percent and Tesco 15 percent.
One fifth of parents of school age children are entitled to the Back to School Allowance. However three quarters (81 percent) admitted that the allowance they receive is insufficient to cover their children’s back to school needs.
Over two thirds of parents (69 percent) believe that Irish schools do not support parents in keeping costs down for their school going children. These negative attitudes were more pronounced among parents of secondary school children (71 percent)
Almost two thirds of all parents admitted that back to school expenses will negatively impact family plans and paying bills. 49 percent of parents may have to modify their family holiday or children’s summer camps this year. Back to School expenses will also have an adverse impact on 7 percent of domestic bill payments and an additional 7 percent of parents will be forced to forego / delay a credit card payment to meet all back to school expenses for their children incurring additional interest charges.