Parenting NI responds to the NICCY consultation outlining the costs to parents of sending children to school.
Muriel Bailey, Director for Family Support Services at Parenting NI said,
“The results of this consultation are worrying – but are sadly not surprising to Parenting NI. The issue of cost has come up time and time again in our own consultations with parents. When asked what the single biggest issue with Northern Ireland’s education system, more than 1 in 10 parents singled out cost.
The fact that most parents are required to pay over £1000, per child per year puts enormous stress on families in Northern Ireland. This is particularly worrying when this is considered in the context of the recently announced cuts to the per-pupil payment to schools, as well as the recent proposed cut to the uniform grant that was narrowly avoided.
In addition to this, the regional differences, where parents in the west are expected to effectively pay a £184 premium compared to parents in Belfast highlights a need for an urgent, balanced and reason-based solution.
There is increasing pressure on parents and on schools to provide the basic necessities needed to attend school. Given the fact that education is meant to be free to access, more simply must be done to support parents who are struggling.
It is self-evident that the simplest and most effective solution would be a locally-elected and locally accountable education minister. Every day of delay simply postpones necessary change. It is for that reason that Parenting NI, speaking on behalf of parents across Northern Ireland, is asking that all political parties come together to address this as a matter of urgency.”