The National Parents Council post primary (NPCpp) welcomes the new circular by the Department of Education and Skills today, which requires schools to adopt cost reduction measures and consult these with parents.

Parents of students in post primary schools are required to cover many costs every year. The cost of first year in secondary school is estimated at €735 per student in average. This includes items such as:

• School Uniform
• Voluntary contributions
• School Books & Workbooks
• iPads and e-Books
• School footwear
• School gym wear / sportswear
• Sports equipment
• Transition Year costs
• Charges for Curricular ad Extra-Curricular activities
• School bags & equipment

While the cost of uniforms is being emphasized in many cases, other costs that parents bear throughout the school year in post primary schools are significant. There is very little support available to low income families in respect of these additional costs and although some of them are presented as voluntary, non-payment often leads to exclusion of students which could be seen as discriminatory.

The new circular requires the schools to adapt cost effective measures and ensure that:

• All elements of a school uniform should be purchasable from various stores;
• Only “iron on” or “sew on” crests should be used;
• Wherever possible, generic rather than branded items should be specified (e.g. uniform, clothing, IT tablets, sports equipment etc.)
• Parents are provided with a list of all required items and indicate the likely costs of these required items at best value stores;
• Book rental scheme is available;
• The use of workbooks which cannot be reused is phased out, between now and September 2018,
• Where an exclusive supply arrangement applies, it should be tendered for regularly.

“The National Parents Council post primary welcomes this positive step towards reducing costs imposed on parents of post primary students. No child should be disadvantaged in his / her education because of their family’s financial situation,” says Rose Callan, President of the NPCpp. “We welcome the consultations with parents in particular as we have campaigned for inclusion of parents in key areas of education of our children for years.”

The National Parents Council post primary took part in the consultation process on possible cost reductions initiated by the Department of Education and Skills in November 2016. Copy of our submission is available here.

It is not clear how many parents will benefit from the new measures in 2017/2018, however the consultations with parents associations should take place nationwide and the National Parents Council post primary is looking forward to supporting parents to engage in this process effectively in order to reduce the cost of sending our children to school.