September has got to be the most expensive month in the calendar. It doesn’t compare to Christmas and all the financial hardship that entails. It hasn’t a patch on July and summer holiday time and the resulting outlay. It doesn’t indeed even touch on car tax and insurance month.
The reason for this exorbitant outlay? The kids go back to school.
Now bear in mind that they go back to school with their book-list completed, their uniforms all purchased and sporting brand spanking new shoes on their precious little feet. One would be forgiven for thinking that the money has already been spent by now.
One would be entirely incorrect.
The money spent preparing them every year for the return to education is enormous. It can be spread over the summer months to a certain extent. The books can be purchased in June or July, some of the uniform later on during the summer and the shoes on the last possible day in August. That should be it.
But no, unfortunately that is far from it. This year, each child needed one hundred euros to cover costs of administration, photocopying, locker rental and homework diary. That amounts to a whopping three hundred euro I had to have at the ready on the first day back. That doesn’t include the extra fifty euro required for practical subjects, which I have yet to pay. Nor does it even begin to consider the so called voluntary contribution charge of an extra one hundred and twenty euro or thereabouts. And we won’t mention the insurance, the sports club memberships and the daily bus money.
They seem to be coming home every other day with a note and their hands out looking for more cash to cover some other event.
The costs of the books themselves are exorbitant. The summer months must be a publishers dream as the book lists are released and items have to be purchased accordingly. There seems to be precious little opportunity to pass on books from sibling to sibling anymore. It would seem that a slight change in text, a difference in world leader, an alteration to artwork necessitates a whole new publication making all previous versions null, void and firmly defunct. And no child wants to draw attention to him or herself by having the incorrect version of a schoolbook.
The much maligned school book rental scheme doesn’t exist in the school my children attend; more’s the pity so we’ve no choice but to cough up for new versions of the same book. How can maths and grammar change that much from year to year? I mean ‘Math is Math’, right?
But why so many charges and why aren’t schools doing their utmost to keep costs down? Education in Ireland is supposed to be free, yet every year the costs go up, the needs are greater and the expenses increase.
This year, having two facing Leaving Certificate in June we will have to find spare cash to pay for grinds, trips to career fairs and after school study. I totally understand that these are not mandatory expenses, yet they are required nonetheless. They need extra tuition in many subjects and that is not necessarily down to any issue with their teachers.
The career fairs will help them choose their next step and after school study is supposed to help them focus and concentrate. Yet it all adds up. I know next year with two heading towards college and all that entails, the costs will be exorbitant but there’s little hope of us saving for it this year with the price of sending three of them back to school this September.