The latest Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) survey on back to school costs shows the overall spend on school items is up for both primary and secondary schools.
- The annual ILCU (Irish League of Credit Unions) Back-to-School survey shows cost of sending child to secondary school is now averaging €1,500
- Parents now spending €1,491 per secondary school child – up €24 on last year’s survey
- Primary school spending has increased by €63 from last year’s survey
- Back-to-school costs are still a challenge for parents with 63% of parents finding it a financial burden
- A quarter of parents (24%) are getting into debt to cover the costs of back to school with 21% having debts over €500
- The average debt parents find themselves in is €336
- 65% of parents believe that schools don’t do enough to help keep the costs of going back to school down
- 71% of schools still seeking a “voluntary contribution”
- 65% of parents say that that home-schooling and lockdowns had a negative effect on their child’s overall educational performance
- School books once again top the list this year as the most expensive item for parents of secondary school children at €211, up from €196 last year.
- Extracurricular activities are the top cost for primary school parents at €178, up from €167 last year.
- Spending on gym gear/sports equipment has increased for both primary school (€77, up €15 from 2020) and secondary school (€121, up €11 from 2020).
- Significantly, 43% of parents say they will have to deny their children new gym gear, a sharp increase of 16% from 2020. Parents also reported that 71% of schools are still seeking so called ‘voluntary contributions’.
Funding back to school continues to be a challenge for parents with 63% of parents saying that covering the cost of back to school is a financial burden. Nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) are getting into debt to cover the costs of back to school. Of these, three quarters have debts of over €200 with 21% having debts over €500. The average debt parents find themselves incurring is €336 which encouragingly is down €61 on last year’s figure.
Over two thirds (68%) of Irish parents said they use their monthly income to pay for back to school costs, followed by savings at 36%. Unsurprisingly, the number of parents using savings is up 2% from 2020, possibly due to reduced spending during the lockdown. Those relying on their credit card to pay for back to school costs is also slightly down at 17%, a reduction of 3%. A credit union loan is the preferred choice of 5% of parents, while 3% are still turning to moneylenders. 14% of parents rely on the state’s Back to School allowance, up 1% from last year.
This year’s survey also revealed that 68% of parent’s now shop online for school supplies, a rise of 2% from 2020, with respondent’s citing convenience (61%) as the main reason for doing so.
Impacts of COVID-19
- Home-schooling and Lockdowns – for the second year running, the ILCU survey also looked at the impact and concerns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- COVID-19 has had a profound impact on families, with 7 in 10 adults surveyed reporting that the mental health of their household has been affected, and almost a third saying that their physical health has suffered.
- As expected, households struggled with the challenges of home schooling with almost 1 in 3 parents saying they found it difficult to juggle home-schooling with work commitments and over a quarter agreeing that home-schooling was a burden.
- 1 in 3 parents (35%) said the extra cost of feeding children when home-schooling had the biggest effect on household finances. This was a noticeable increase (14%) from 2020. Over one fifth (22%) of parents reported that expenditure on laptops/tablets to support home-schooling has had an impact on their household finances compared to 11% in 2020.
- 65% of respondents agreed that that home-schooling and lockdowns had a negative effect on their children’s overall educational performance, and that their children were less focused on schoolwork.
- One of the biggest impacts of home schooling and lockdowns, according to 88% of parents, was that children missed their friends and social activities. 60% also said that, despite this, children enjoyed being at home and spending more time with family.
New School Year
- As a result of schools being closed for a number of weeks at the start of the year, 37% of parents think that the school calendar should be adjusted to accommodate for missed time. 31% of respondents believe that a focus should be put on children’s mental health when they return to school in September.
- While a decision on the rollout of vaccinations to school children in Ireland is being considered by Government, the survey revealed that 72% of parents agree vaccinations should be offered to secondary school students with 48% in agreement for primary school students.
- The biggest concern for parents about their children returning to school is the impact of a further lockdown (48%), while 41% are worried about exposure to COVID-19 and the health and safety of their children.