FERMANAGH parents are being forced to borrow money as “back to school” bills soar to several hundred Pounds.
Latest figures by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) UK found nearly half of parents (47 percent) were concerned about rising back-to-school costs. From uniforms to PE kits, books, school trips, meals and all the other added expenses that go along with the return to the class room, parents have said they are being forced to budget from early summer to survive the costs, with some even having to borrow money.
One parent, who didn’t want to be named, said they’d already spent £200 on the uniform.
“There will undoubtedly be other costs from school,” they continued. “We recently had to have repairs done to our windows in the house, I was forced to borrow money from a family relative, who I’ve since paid back, but if we had of been unable to get this money, it was no uniform, no necessary repairs or a quick loan, it adds unnecessary pressure as there is only one supplier identified for uniform.”
Another said: “We start budgeting and collecting pieces from July. We have two at school, one primary and one secondary level. If we didn’t do this it’s a massive outlay at one time.”
A third mother said they were struggling to pay for the uniform alone, not to mention other expenses such as school trips and after school activities.
“My mum has had to pay snack and milk money for the term as I couldn’t afford it,” she said. “It causes problems with other finances you are faced with and cannot budget for. Then other things to cause anxiety and pressure are sponsorship forms, book fairs, where the books are three times the price on amazon, tickets for raffles to raise money for the school. Kids feel bad when they can’t bring money and especially when you don’t have a big circle of family and friends to ask to help.”
Jayne Thompson, NI programmes manager at PTA UK, said parents should be offered more affordable options regarding uniforms and other items, to help families cope.
“Our best schools consider parents as partners,” said the Fermanagh woman. “Parents can positively contribute to school life and as such, should be listened to and given the opportunity to share their views on school policies which ultimately affect them, whether that is to do with uniforms, school lunches, school trips and so on.”