As students prepare to return to class next week, welfare groups say families are struggling to meet rising back-to-school costs. Many students are expected to miss out on funding after the Education Maintenance Allowance for low-income families was scrapped at the end of last year, and the Schoolkids Bonus will be abolished next year.
Parents Victoria said welfare agencies were inundated with requests for help from distressed families facing mounting costs at the start of the school year. "You've got all the agencies trying to fill the gaps, but not everyone qualifies for support," executive officer Gail McHardy said. "And those agencies have made it very clear that they run out of assistance very quickly because they just can't meet demands upon them."
Children's charity The Smith Family estimates the cost of sending a child to a public primary school is more than $2000 a year, excluding excursions and camps or discretionary items such as school photos, computers and tutoring. Fees for certain subjects are higher, and some schools have requirements that each child must have a laptop or tablet. At private schools these costs skyrocket.
"Before your child even walks in the front gate the average parent is looking at spending around $700 on uniforms, shoes and stationery, and that's a conservative figure based on the least expensive purchases at nationally accessible chain stores," chief executive Lisa O'Brien said. "Once in the gate, and depending on whether your child goes to primary or high school, parents encounter a whole new raft of expenses."
Modelling released by the Australian Scholarships Group this week puts the total cost of a public education in Melbourne for a child born this year at $69,349. The member-based organisation, which invests money to help parents offset education fees, forecasts costs of more than $500,000 for children who go from prep to year 12 through the private system.
The Smith Family supports 34,000 children nationally through its Learning for Life program, providing financial support and mentoring to struggling families and running after-school learning clubs for their children. Parents put the money towards uniforms, stationery, books and, increasingly, computer equipment. But the charity said a drop in sponsorship over the past 12 months means 1600 children currently in the program are at risk of starting the school year without assistance.
NOTE: At Glen Park we keep our costs very low. We don't ask for 'voluntary fees' and the school provides pupil requisites. We don't charge for camps and excursions and we keep our uniforms cheap and simple. ( some primary schools even in Ballarat have very expensive uniform costs) We can provide this because I clean the school and donate the $6000 back to the school to pay for student learning needs throughout the year, whether it be new pencils and crayons or the $80 each it would have cost each child to do gymnastics last year. We also purchase iPads for our students since we started using them now almost 5 years ago. I know the BYOD ( Bring Your Own Device) policy of many schools getting into iPads for the first time this year is also causing a lot of grief for families this year in particular. The real slug comes in secondary school especially if you go private.
Interesting short story about teaching cursive writing in the US from Huffington Post.