What Is The Real Cost Of School Supplies And Fees?

While the education itself is government funded there are several other costs that incur when your child starts at primary school

Getting a primary school education in Ireland is technically free of charge but everywhere I look I am met with money saving tips and ideas for back to school time. While the education itself is government funded there are several other costs that incur when your child starts at primary school.
These costs and fees come around every year and involve some budgeting. My son will be starting junior infants in September and in a bid to get ahead I’m trying to get on top of what will be expected of us financially.
We’ve been spoiled with two years on the ECCE programme where little or no extra costs came our way (I know this varies from setting to setting).

So without further ado – what are the actual expected costs for school supplies and fees when your child starts at primary school?
A recent study showed that the average parent is spending over €800 per primary school pupil on annual school costs. That is a scary number considering the actual education is free of charge. Many parents admit to needing a loan to manage the back to school costs, particularly when they have more than one child attending school.
One of the biggest areas of spending seems to be on extracurricular activities, afterschool care, transport and school lunches.

When your child starts at school they will need a couple of basics. Let’s start with a school bag, stationery supplies (your school will more than likely provide a list of what is needed or a fee that you can pay to cover those materials being provided) and a school uniform.
Children tend to want (and arguably, need) a new school bag and pencil case every year. In many households, a new fresh lunch-box is also a given. It is a good idea to keep an eye out for sales, discount codes and supermarket special-buys which offer an array of these items at discounted prices.

Uniform is a black and white matter also because our children’s frame and feet are constantly growing so a larger size will always be needed (sometimes more than once throughout any one year). Many schools have a uniform scheme with a particular business or company and other schools have a more generic uniform that can be obtained in places like Dunnes Stores, Mr Price etc.
Educate Together schools may have no formal uniform but there will be uniform guidelines and rules which could lead to a couple of purchases.
Many parents say that €150 is a realistic figure to cover the annual uniform and footwear needs of one primary going child. It is also worth noting that one set is often not enough. Many parents double up on uniform items to ensure their child has clean items to last the entire week if their uniform becomes wet or soiled by food for example.
Depending on your financial situation you may be entitled to some help from social welfare with these costs. There is a school clothing and footwear rate available.

When it comes to books many schools have a school rental system but many parents feel that the cost is still too high. The average school book cost at primary level seems to be €80-100.

Then comes the school’s “voluntary contribution” fee which can be anything €75-€100 per student depending on the school. To add to this there may be art and craft fees and school trips that come with a fee also. These fees may need to be paid upfront or closer to the time of the trip/activity.

If anyone needs me I’ll be in the credit union...
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.


Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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