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Education minister challenged to do more to reduce back to school costs

3 July, 2013 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien TD, has challenged education minister, Ruairí Quinn to do more to address the spiralling back-to-school costs that are impacting on parents.

The Cork North Central deputy said that the cost of school books and uniforms had now reached unsustainable levels with voluntary contributions and school transport “making a bad situation a good deal worse”.

“The findings of the most recent Barnardo’s Annual School’s Survey found that on average parents are paying €355 for a child in senior infants, €390 for children in 4th class in primary school and €770 for children going into first year in secondary school.

“I would conservatively estimate that with the cost of uniforms, books, tracksuits, shoes and runners, and other miscellaneous items, then the annual cost of equipping and clothing a child for school is nearly €1,000.

“Clearly, in these very difficult times, thousands of families are struggling to make ends meet, yet Minister Quinn is not doing enough to ease the financial burden on parents who are forced to meet the costs of what individual school boards of management deem acceptable.

“More robust governance is needed to ensure Boards of Management implement policies that will allow parents greater flexibility and freedom to purchase more affordable school uniforms. The minister must implement changes to existing legislation that will allow his department to impose mandatory regulations on boards of management to ensure parents can buy for more affordable uniforms.”

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