Last week, the Child Poverty Action Group published the results of a small-scale, local study into the costs of education in Oxford secondary schools, focusing on year seven pupils. The report is based on surveys of parents and concluded that “the idea of a free education… is far from the reality” with parents facing significant costs, and many struggling to meet them.
Particular costs included:
School uniform, with over 25% of respondents spending over £100 per year.
Shoes, with over one third of respondents (36%) spending more than £50 per year.
PE kit, with 72% of respondents spending between £25 and £75.
School meals, with ten of the survey’s 62 respondents who did not qualify for free school meals reporting that they found it difficult to meet these costs.
Transport costs amounting to over £130 per term for some parents.
School trips, with nearly half of respondents (39%) stating that they struggled to afford them.
An array of extras which were recommended for particular subjects, such as revision books, maths equipment and cooking ingredients.
The report concluded that many parents were making sacrifices to ensure that their children did not miss out on opportunities. Many parents missed out on statutory support due to their incomes, but still found it difficult to meet all of the costs associated with their children’s education. The report therefore suggested that “eligibility criteria are inadequate and lack… universality or flexibility.” Finally, the report highlighted that parents lack information about available support, and argued that “an underlying reason for these costs is that schools are seriously underfunded.”