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Are School Uniforms Too Expensive?

School Uniform

Are School Uniforms Too Expensive?

Many parents are struggling financially with the cost of school uniforms, especially if they have more than one child attending school.  The St Vincent De Paul made a submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection in 2013.  The submission was in relation to their concerns about parents being unable to afford expensive uniforms.  They spoke about implementing changes with regard to uniform policies and about asking schools to consider offering cheaper clothing.  There has been a huge increase in families applying for the back-to-school allowance this year.

Approximately 105,000 families received the back to school clothing and footwear allowance in July.  A recent survey carried out by Barnardos revealed the results of the 1,400 parents who completed the survey.  About 458 participants had children attending secondary school and 947 participants had children attending primary school.  The results concluded that uniforms, shoes, books and technology were the main financial strains for parents.

The average cost of providing a 1st year child with the necessary school attire, books and material is almost €800.  The back to school clothing and footwear allowance is available for parents who require some financial assistance during the start of the school year.  However if a parent is just over the minimum threshold for the allowance, they are not entitled to any money.  The payment stands at €100 for a primary school child and €200 for a secondary school child respectively.

I spoke to a local woman in relation to the cost of providing her children with their school clothing and supplies.

Local woman from Dublin 8

“I have two girls aged 6 years and 16 years.  My 6 year old is in first class, and she needed two jumpers at €20 each, two pinafores at €16 each, and two skirts at €10 each. That is a total of €92 for just her school uniform.  My 16 year old is in fifth year in school, her secondary school jumper was €45, her skirt was €40, and two shirts were €16 each. That came to €117 for my secondary school daughter’s uniform.  My 16 years olds books came to a total of €189 and that was without stationary.  Her school locker was €10 and her journal was €15. When my daughter was in 1st year I paid about €1000 on her books and supplies, having spent the majority of the money on her art materials.

She is not doing art for her leaving certificate so she didn’t require any art supplies this year. My 6 year old daughters’ work books were €20 and her part rental books were €40.  I had to pay a €50 pre-registration school fee for both my daughters. I am married and both my husband and I are working so we are not entitled to a back-to-school-allowance.  I certainly think that the cost of providing children with school uniforms and supplies are extortionate.” 

Many parents have to budget their household expenses, or take out loans in order to pay for their child’s education.  So with this in mind how can the Government state that education is free in this country?

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