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£800 'hidden cost' of sending a child to a state school - your experiences?

(192 Posts)
TheLateKateMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 29-Oct-14 12:50:58

According to the Children's Commission on Poverty, many families in the UK are struggling to meet the 'hidden costs' of sending a child to school. They estimate that families need to find roughly £800 per child to pay for things such as school uniforms, lunches, and extra-curricular trips and activities - often more, once their child reaches secondary school.

What's your experience? Does this figure sound about right, when you add up all the extras - and are your family finances suffering because of it? Do let us know in the thread below.

P.S If you're looking for ways to manage school costs, take a look at our tips here

Titsalinabumsquash Wed 29-Oct-14 12:56:30

I can easily see that being true, every other day my children are coming home with letters asking for donations for this, that and the other.

It's hard to say no because you don't want your child to be missing out or singled out as the 'poor child' I was that child at shook and it was awful.

This term we've got a disco, harvest festival, 4 non uniforms in exchange for money or goods, Christmas fair, school photos, 1 trip each per class, charity cake sales etc etc, it soon adds up and that's without the cost of new uniforms, lunch boxes, PE kits.

NotMrsTumble Wed 29-Oct-14 12:56:47

Ha, not a typical state school, but we're well in excess of £800. Still, it's definitely cheaper than private school, and to be fair, much of the cost is extras, music lessons, residential trips etc. (though compulsory uniform, specialist sports kits and shoes are a fair whack)

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 29-Oct-14 13:00:03

Sounds rather high to me, but I've never lived in an expensive area and I think the schools my kids have been to just don't do expensive trips.
Also a lot of the extras are optional and you don't have to buy them - photos for instance. There are loads of charity cake sales, non-uniform days, etc, but they rarely cost more than £1 per child.

redskybynight Wed 29-Oct-14 13:04:00

I've not found costs too bad - but then I think my DC's schools deliberately keep costs down due to the demographic of their pupils.

Uniform is relatively cheap - no more expensive than whatever other set of clothes your child would wear anyway.

Normally one trip a year, inexpensive except for Y6 residential (which only a third of the year group go on anyway). This is primary though.

BigglesFliesUndone Wed 29-Oct-14 13:07:52

Easily that much sad dd goes to a very m/c primary and the majority of children there have extra after school classes and music lessons on top of the normal requests. It's really difficult to say no, when she sees her friends nipping off for violin tuition or whatever, but we can barely scrape together the 'voluntary' contributions most of the time.

And if we do say we can't pay the 'voluntary' contributions we are seriously quizzed!

BigglesFliesUndone Wed 29-Oct-14 13:09:29

Easily that much sad dd goes to a very m/c primary and the majority of children there have extra after school classes and music lessons on top of the normal requests. It's really difficult to say no, when she sees her friends nipping off for violin tuition or whatever, but we can barely scrape together the 'voluntary' contributions most of the time.

And if we do say we can't pay the 'voluntary' contributions we are seriously quizzed!

BigglesFliesUndone Wed 29-Oct-14 13:09:49

oops! sorry blush

500smiles Wed 29-Oct-14 13:15:26

Yes easily that, the DCs just go to the local school, it's probably a nicer area than a lot of the town schools, but we are by no means wealthy.

Logo uniform, massive equipment list, Revision guides, (Secondary)

plus for both schools £2 here and there donations for dress down / up days, cake sales, school trips are always £25 upwards even just a trip into town (I know it's the cost of the coach but still...) photographs, christmas cards made by the DCs, school fetes, discos etc

meglet Wed 29-Oct-14 13:16:02

Let me have a think......

School dinners £390 a year (KS2 child only)
Music lessons £120 (KS2)
School trips (both DC's) approx £40
Uniform £200+ a year. They both get through 2 pairs of shoes a year (we walk).
2 x school fayres. TBH I compensate for not being able to help out (working LP, no dad around) by spending a fair bit £60+.

So, that's £810?

I'm not sure school dinners really counts though, DS needs feeding and packed lunch would still cost and take up my time.

Only uniform is essential. But while I can scrape the money together then I'm happy for them to go on trips and have music lessons. Money is getting tighter though I can see the day I have to ask the bank of Grandma and Grandad to help out sad.

Not cheap is it shock.

SixImpossible Wed 29-Oct-14 13:19:37

I would say £800 is about right at primary, but probably not high enough at secondary, especially if you factor in transport.

Admittedly, you can make savings on uniform and not go on every trip, but that can be tough on the dc. It's one thing to miss a jolly (eg ski trip), but unfair to miss a curriculum-based field trip.

NancyJones Wed 29-Oct-14 13:26:45

But they're not really hidden costs are they? I mean everyone knows they will have to pay for Sch dinners and school uniform.
I can see that the £1 for this and that throughout the year can be a hidden cost but not lunch and uniform. Expensive stuff you are pressured into re school fayres etc I can see the issue with too.

But surely music tuition is entirely voluntary? That is over and above school music lessons. If your child was having a violin lesson on a sat morning you would expect to pay for it. It's not really a hidden extra of state education.

NancyJones Wed 29-Oct-14 13:27:30

Also agree re expensive school trips especially at primary. Totally unnecessary.

DaisyFlowerChain Wed 29-Oct-14 13:28:21

Uniform and food are essentials though, you would still have to feed and clothe the child anyway. Uniform is dirt cheap from supermarkets and often less costly than casual clothes.

I don't know of any local primary schools that charge for books or stationery either.

£800 over the whole of primary may be right but not a year. Trips, residentials, discos etc are all optional.

All of this was around when I was at school and has been for some time yet it always amazes me when parents seem to think it's some sort of surprise and an unexpected cost.

NancyJones Wed 29-Oct-14 13:29:11

At primary, children do not ever miss curriculum trips. They cannot be excluded. If trips regularly need to be cancelled or bankrolled by school then they need to take a look at their intake and adjust accordingly.

scarevola Wed 29-Oct-14 13:33:09

CAB campaigns about this (usually garnering some press attention in September with the start of the school year). Unfortunately, they do not seem to have made much headway with either this government or the previous one.

Here is their excellent advice page for those who need to seek assistance

mankyscotslass Wed 29-Oct-14 13:36:34

DS1 in state Secondary school

Uniform - £250 including logo blazer, PE kits and jumper and various required boots/trainers
Lunches - £10 a week so about 280/300 a year? - he only has school dinners twice a week
School bus - £40 a month
Choir activities & required clothing - £100
No school trips yet - he didn't want to go on the week long football trip to Holland for £800
Donations to fundraising -£25
He wants to do a musical instrument at school but it is £100 a term so we can't stretch to that.
Stationery and equipment £40 a year
If he was on the sports teams there would be additional kit costs too.

So yes it all adds up - primary school isn't as bad, but we are still about £300-£400 for each of the two still at primary.

DD will be going to Secondary in September next year, her uniform will almost bankrupt us - as will paying for her bus fares too!

misdee Wed 29-Oct-14 13:37:52

Easily that much, and more for dd's at secondary school. Been told we need to pay for insurence for them, dd1 needs some photographs A5 size for her art course, weekly ingredients for btec catering. I am slowly going insane trying to guess how much they need week on week for extras

joanofarchitrave Wed 29-Oct-14 13:38:30

I don't think it's anything like this much. Thank goodness we are still benefiting from the attitudes of the last head teacher who wanted a truly inclusive community school. Thanks to her, the school's results and popularity have rocketed and it is a VERY mc intake now but it didn't used to be. I hope things don't change too much.

No uniform for a start - well, not quite true - you need to buy one item of school wear for school trips, say £10. Cake sales you can get away with 20p a week, actually i never remember to give ds any money for this but let's say, that's £7.80 a year. Recorder lessons, football club, chess club, netball club and a few others are free, but cost of a recorder would be £5 (actually they will always lend you one but let's assume you wouldn't know that). There is likely to be at least one other event requiring a donation per term, say £3 a year. There is usually one big school trip a year, the PTA help with costs; it might be £15, but this year is the big one, the residential which will cost £250. Lunches, yes, they are expensive so there is a big packed lunch cohort, but we pay - about £400 a year. Total is £670 this year due to the residential, normally more like £450 and not very much of that is due to the school really.

However, it has to be said that we have a good income nearly at the national average, so it is not too hard for us to provide cakes, music, clothes and other trips out for ds, so we spend a lot more than this on his entertainment and enrichment outside school. If I couldn't do this, I would want to take advantage of the cheaper rates and support that school provide, and would end up wanting to spend more on school things.

joanofarchitrave Wed 29-Oct-14 13:39:48

Ah - I hadn't even thought about secondary blush

Better get the chequebook out...

Badvoc123 Wed 29-Oct-14 13:42:46

I would say it's that much easily tbh, especially as the dc get older.
My ds2 does not have logo school wear. I cannot afford £9.50 per polo shirt.
Ds1 has to have a logo sweatshirt which infuriates me as it's £20 each one.
Wouldn't mind so much if they were decent quality!
Since sept I have had to pay for Xmas play trip, food tech, school photos x 2, school fund, and that's after all the new stationary, uniforms, shoes, PE kit, locker rental....sigh.
My sons 3 day residential in year 5 was £300.
Luckily, he didn't want to go to France last year thank god.
I will have ds2s Xmas trip to pay for next month.
And that's not including the school Fairs, fund raising events, raffles, charity donations....

Bumpandbaby2014 Wed 29-Oct-14 13:43:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Badvoc123 Wed 29-Oct-14 13:44:02

Oh blimey...I forgot ds1s dinners...that's £10 per week too

misdee Wed 29-Oct-14 13:45:08

Uniform and packed lunches are factored into our usual budget. And the eldest 2 train fares are because it's cheaper and easier than me driving 4 miles in one direction and then 7miles to the primary school straight after twice a day.

But it's the £2 here for an activity, £1 for a cake sale, donation for XYZ, money for that trip, extra equipment needed that's not expected.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 29-Oct-14 13:47:30

shock at those uniform prices, Badvoc.

Our sweatshirts cost £7.50, poloshirts £4.75, PE t-shirt £2.50.

I had to kit out 3 kids from scratch this summer because they changed schools and it can't have come anywhere near £200 for all 3.

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