Parents struggle to meet rising school costsMore than half asked to contribute to school funds

29 August 2007

Children

Three quarters of parents are finding the rising costs of their child’s school difficult to meet, according to a new survey.

Nearly half of the 1000 parents questioned in the online poll said they were asked to contribute to school funds, with some reporting they were pressured to make ‘voluntary’ contributions.

The survey, which was carried out for Citizens Advice, reveals that  parents continue to find school uniform a big expense, despite government guidelines calling for schools to make uniform more affordable.

Uniform prices

Almost 60% said they expect to have to pay more for uniform from September this year than they did last year.

And one lone parent who completed the survey said her daughter’s secondary school uniform would cost her an entire week’s wage.

The cost of uniforms varies enormously, with some parents reporting spending as much as £500 per year.

A third of primary school respondents spent more than £150 on school uniform and PE kit per year, while half of all secondary school respondents spent more than £200 per year.

Grants

Citizens Advice Chief Executive David Harker said: ‘Parents shouldn't have to spend sleepless nights worrying about how they are going to pay for what their child needs simply to go to school.

‘For many it doesn't feel like a ‘free’ education, it is hitting their budgets very hard and potentially having a direct impact on children’s schooling. I am especially concerned about schools that put pressure on parents to make so-called ‘voluntary’ contributions.

‘The government should take stronger action against schools to make uniform policies more realistic and affordable and should monitor schools to make sure they stick to the guidelines. It would also really help if all local authorities in England were required to provide uniform grants for families which receive the maximum child tax credit.’