The Real Cost of School in 2018

This year over 2,200 parents took the Barnardos’ School Costs Survey. The resounding message is that all parents, regardless of income, find the back to school period places a strain on their finances and causes significant stress.

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The majority of parents have to either take out a loan, delay payment of other bills or take money out of savings to cover school costs. This experience is magnified for those families who struggle financially or have additional challenges. Lone parents, parents who are full time carers and families with either a parent or a child with a disability all voiced their frustration at being left to struggle with school costs. Ireland’s education system purports to provide free education but in reality is heavily subsidised by families.


School Costs Infographic 2018

See the 2018 infographic of results

School Costs Infographic 2018

2018 Survey Findings

The survey found:
  • The cost of sending a child to school increased in 2018 across primary and secondary: the average cost of sending a child to senior infants is €360; the average cost of sending a child to first year is €765
  • More parents are going into debt: 11% of primary school parents and 21% of secondary school parents are forced to borrow money to cover school costs; the majority of the remaining either delay payment of other bills or take money out of savings
  • 53% of primary school parents and 54% of secondary school parents reported an increase in the cost of school books this year
  • The number of parents being asked to pay a voluntary contribution has increased since last year: 67% of primary school parents have been asked for a voluntary contribution (up 11% on last year); 71% of secondary school parents have been asked to pay a contribution (up 2% on last year)
  • This year there has been a resounding call from parents for education to be adequately funded. Parents are tired of bridging the gap between statutory investment in education and the actual cost of sending a child to school.

How can it be free education if parents have to make up the difference between the budget the schools get from the Dept. of Education and the budget it needs to keep running? Schools should be 100% funded. –School Costs Survey 2018 participant

Take Action Now

The state is falling to fulfil its obligation to provide free education and parents are tired of shouldering the burden. Now is the time for change! Take action now and tell politicians that truly free education must be a political priority.

Sign the open letter