I thought it might be a good idea to talk about some of the 4 year old’s starting school expenses, how I think they compare to other schools and also go into some of the hidden costs that you may not have considered. As I chatted about this with my fellow Irish Parenting Bloggers, we realised that this was an issue that many of us would like to discuss and share our opinions and feelings so you will see more links appearing below as we blog about it.
Where has the time gone? This time 5 years ago I was awaiting the arrival of my first child with more than a little anxiety. Now I’m sticking and ironing labels but thankfully with far less worry than I thought I would have. Perhaps the fact that I buried my head in the sand this summer and focussed on some food projects helped but it’s time for me to face up to the fact that it’s time for him to enter into formal education.
I’ve written, and spoken, of our school choice before. We have decided to educate our children through the Irish Language (Gaeilge) in a Gaelscoil (literally translated it means Irish school). The choice was the easy part, there are many positive and some negative consequences to this choice and you’ll see what I mean below.
The school is very young, it has yet to reach full capacity but that will happen in the next few years as the children move through the primary cycle. Being a young school means that the board of management and teachers are progressive and sensitive in their curriculum and uniform decisions which helps keep costs down.
Many schools charge a stationary/photocopying fee, many also request voluntary contribution at the start of the year. Our school does not request a voluntary contribution, however the entire fee and book rental charge for the year comes in at just under €70. I did have to buy 1 workbook, some folders and glue, a new lunchbox, drinks bottle and labels for his uniform and school items brought that cost to €100. A family member bought him a new schoolbag which is very much appreciated.
When it comes to uniforms, many schools require a crested uniform – this is a jumper, t-shirt or shirt and possibly also a jacket which has an embroidered school crest. In our school we can buy any generic uniform clothes, then a crest separately and I then sew the crest on myself. A specific embroidered jumper could cost as much as €45. I can pick up a discount jumper and a crest for under €10. There is a school tracksuit but I was lucky enough to pick up two tracksuits for the price of one in May of this year when there was a sale in the draper’s down the town. Overall, his uniform for the year, including a couple of thermal vests for the winter cost us €100, and that includes two tracksuits.
When I bought his winter coat last year I allowed for plenty of room and it will certainly fit him again this year, his light summer raincoat will do for Autumn showers. The last big expense was his footwear. I was able to get quality shoes and runners in discount shops and they cost under €50 for both. We cannot compromise on shoe quality as we walk a long distance each day (7km round trip, 5 days a week). Last year I did buy some cheaper runners for the walk to/from the Montessori (located in the same building) and they barely lasted 3 weeks. Investing in good shoe leather now will save us money in the long run.
These are the obvious school expenses for heading back to primary school. Don’t forget that if you drive you need to allow for maintenance/wear and tear on your vehicle, if the kids take a bus there is a cost for that, and of course if you walk you need to provide for your own shoe leather, wear and tear on your clothes and possibly a buggy too!
If you have a child in secondary school, you can multiply our cost of €250 by at least 4 for most first year students. I know that our costs are significantly cheaper than most other primary schools in Ireland and for that I’m grateful.
Each family is different, each child differs from year to year, the school and location your child goes to makes the experience unique to every family. One thing that unites us all however is that providing for your child’s education is not free but there are ways that schools can assist you in keeping the costs down. Some are more progressive than others.
How does your school fit into the school expenses? Are they in the high, middle or low range?
If you’re interested in how much it costs to go back to school in Ireland you can read this excellent infographic from Barnardos which is based on a survey they carried out earlier this Summer. You can also read from the selection of Irish Parenting Bloggers over the next couple of days:
Sunday, 25th August: The Clothesline – It All Adds Up
Monday, 26th August: The Mama’s Hip – Homeschooling haul and chatter
Monday, 26th August: Awfully Chipper – Back to school in America
Tuesday, 27th August: Learner Mama – Back to school – A costly business
Tuesday, 27th August: Office Mum – School Costs & The Double Income Contradicton
Tuesday, 27th August: Musings And Chatterings – Crests and costs – starting big school part 1
Wednesday, 28th August: Serious Wagon – Back to School Costs
Wednesday, 28th August: Dreaming Aloud – Changing Gear
Thursday, 29th August: My Country Girl Ramblings – Back to School The Hidden Costs
Friday, 30th August: Jazzygal – Back to School Costs (a lot)