I am calling on the Minister for Education to implement family friendly policies which all schools in the country must adhere to. In light of the findings of the Barnardo’s report, I would like to reiterate my call for the Minister to address this issue. By taking some very simple steps, families all over Ireland could see a dramatic improvement in their quality of life. The costs of books and uniforms can run to €350 for a primary school child and €785 for a first-year student according to Barnardos.
These figures are far too high and we need to tackle this problem before the new school year begins.
I do recognise there is some support for families, for example the government’s back-to-school allowance, however it is my view that more could be done.
Common sense measures could be implemented across the board, for instance I have spoken on the work books in the past.
It needs to be possible for these books to be sold on after use or to be passed down to a younger sibling, but because schools usually require the pupil to write in these books they cannot be recycled.
Schools should allow students to write their answers into a separate copy book so that the book is kept in good condition, alternatively, the use of work books in all schools should not be permitted.
The textbook rental schemes which were implemented by the Department of Education were an important step however the availability in schools appears to be inconsistent.
The Department of Education needs to ensure that all schools have the option to rent the relevant school books.
School books can cost anything from ten to thirty euro each, this is unaffordable for most people and provisions need to be put in place so children have access to a good education without putting massive strain on their families.
A huge problem for families is purchasing expensive uniforms, there is no reason why generic uniforms cannot be mandatory in all schools, this way a school crest could be sewn onto the uniform at the school’s discretion.
I have contacted the Minister about these issues and I intend to apply pressure on the Department to resolve this major injustice.