‘I’m probably looking at around €2,000 in total and I’m a single parent’

Case 1: Parents ‘bearing the brunt of an underfunded education system’

Mother Michelle Metcalfe says back-to-school time is a very stressful time of year for parents. Photograph: Patrick Bolger

Mother Michelle Metcalfe says back-to-school time is a very stressful time of year for parents. Photograph: Patrick Bolger

 

Michelle Metcalfe,from a town just outside Dublin, has two girls who are looking forward to sitting Junior and Leaving Cert exams next year as she looks forward to shelling out about €2,000 to cover the cost of their supposedly free education.

She has done what she can to keep the costs to a minimum but even by shopping around and making sure they get the most out of the uniforms they both need, there are only so many curtains that can be cut.

“We have managed to keep cost of books to a minimum this year and I don’t think they will cost us more than €60 or €70 each but then there are all the hidden costs,” she says.

She points to the cost of exam papers and reckons she will spend a total of €60 or €70 per child.

“The school headmaster is great and he buys the papers in bulk and gets a good deal but even so they are going to be expensive. Then we have to pay €116 to sit the State exams and that is €116 per child. And my oldest will spend between €25 and €40 on her CAO application and she is very bright and is considering medicine and will sit the HPAT exams for the Royal College of Surgeons. And those past papers are €30 each and we will need four of them.”

She also points to the cost of the uniforms “around €200 each” and the cost of the school bus which is €350 each.

“I’m probably looking at around €2,000 in total and I’m a single parent so it’s something I really have to factor in to my yearly budget,” she says.

“I’m lucky in that I have a job where I can do overtime so I can earn extra money but it’s still a very stressful time of year and it is a huge burden for families.”