The cost of education: The average family spends hundreds of pounds each year

Parents are spending hundreds of pounds on school equipment, uniforms, trips and lunches for each ch

Parents are spending hundreds of pounds on school equipment, uniforms, trips and lunches for each child every year. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA - Credit: PA

The price tag of school uniforms, lunches, kit and trips is setting the average parent in the region back up to £720 per child every school year.

A survey of 300 parents by this newspaper found that the majority spend anything from £300 up to £720 every year - though, for many, the number tipped over £1,000.

For ever-controversial school uniforms, the majority - 29pc - of parents spend £51 to £100 over the academic year - though another 55pc spend above £100.

Though the figures hide discrepancies in the cost of primary and secondary items, on the whole parents agreed that shoes were the most expensive item, with 52pc ranking them the dearest, while 58pc said school uniforms overall were too pricey.

In particular, many parents noted the cost of branded uniforms or items with logos, which can often be treble the cost of those found in supermarkets.

A child on his way to nursery. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

A child on his way to nursery. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire - Credit: PA


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But Brian Conway, headteacher at Norwich's Notre Dame High School, said branded items were generally a mark of good quality.

'When we specify an item, we have done quite a bit of research into the quality to make sure that item is strong and will last,' he said.

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'Secondly, it is critical that we have logos for identity - if the work is put in it can tell a story about the school and means that someone wearing it should be thinking about what it means to be part of that school.'

The average cost of lunches falls between £210 and £500 a year per child, while 21pc spend an extra £100-plus a year on breakfast and after-school clubs.

Brian Conway, Notre Dame High School's headteacher. Picture: Denise Bradley

Brian Conway, Notre Dame High School's headteacher. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant

And though 43pc of parents said they only spend £21 to £50 on school kit - pencil cases, stationery and goods for classes, for example - many commented that buying items for creative subjects, such as art and photography, added up.

Esther Thirkettle, teaching union NASUWT's national executive member for Norfolk, said: 'When schools are pushed financially, they will direct funding to the core maths, English and science first and EBACC subjects second. 'This can mean that the arts and technology subjects do not have enough money so are either cut, or forced to ask parents for cash top ups. Teachers are very concerned about asking parents for extra money to fund their subjects.'

Though 67pc of parents said aspects of education were too expensive, 32pc of those said stretched schools should not have to cover costs.

Children will be enjoying their first day at school tomorrow. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Children will be enjoying their first day at school tomorrow. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire - Credit: PA

'It's galling to have to pay so much money'

We asked parents about their biggest outgoings.

Charlotte Ashe's two primary school children attend a before-school club which costs £4 a day - £80 a month.

'The cost really mounts up and it's galling to have to pay so much money just to ensure I get to work on time, as well as adding to the children's school day,' she said.

But she said it was also the less obvious 'endless requirements' for projects, such as trips to the art store, that added up.

Another parent, who is also a teacher, said: 'It's the guilt that opens your parental purse - you don't want your kids to miss out on stuff other kids are able to access.'

But she added most schools were happy to work with parents in financial difficulty, and encouraged parents to ask for help.

Another said a high school lunchtime drama club cost £65 a term and after-school cost £160 a term, while an upcoming school trip cost more than £1,000.

Shoes the dearest part of a school shop

The majority of parents listed shoes as the dearest part of their school uniform shop.

A pair of shoes from the high street will set you back about £30, while sports shoes and boots can be nearer £40.

Though supermarkets compete to keep costs low - Lidl and Aldi last year sold a whole school uniform set for less than £4 - parents buying items with school logos or branding can expect to pay much more.

While a supermarket blazer will set you back about £12, the price can jump to £30 or £40 if it comes with a logo.

Similarly, unisex sweatshirts can be picked up for £2 or £3 from shops, but can top £18 if branded.

Two-pack trousers can be bought for £5 from various shops, but more than one school we looked at sold their trousers for up to £18.

Of course, if quality is better in more expensive items, they may be more budget-friendly in the long run.

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