By Max Clarke

The price-tag for sending one child to state school has rocketed to £1,023 a year on average. Parents are finding themselves with a bill of up to £341 on ‘back to school’ related basics for each child per term, new research by eBay and Mumsnet has revealed.

With 9.6 million children currently in state schools, it means British parents are paying a combined bill of up to £7.8bn per year on essentials such as uniforms, stationery and books. In addition to the basics, the ‘hidden’ expenses of a child’s education can really push up costs — including school trips, music lessons & instruments, swimming lessons, after school clubs and extra tuition. Providing money for sponsorship and fundraising activities also racks up these unbudgeted extras.

Many families admitted that they are having to cut back on their day to day spending (26%) and family holidays or days out (19%), while some families (4%) have been forced to take out loans or dip into savings to cover these expenses.

“We know from the survey that going back to school has an impact on most families’ budgets and Mumsnet welcome anything that can help ease this burden,” said Helen Rowley at Mumsnet. “We know that Mumsnetters frequently turn to online retailers like eBay to hunt out bargains on uniform, books, sports equipment or musical instruments .”

eBay’s consumer specialist, Antonia Pearson, commented “We compared the costs of back to school kits on the high street versus the bargains you can find on eBay.co.uk, and the difference is huge. We calculate that parents can save as much as £590 by kitting out their children on eBay — more than half the average annual cost of school necessities.”
In keeping with tradition, half of all parents cite a good pair of shoes as the single most important item to get children in readiness for school followed by school uniform, while stationery and computer equipment are seen as less essential by 62% of mums.
Pre-school nerves don’t seem to be an issue with 73% of parents and 78% of children saying they’re not worried about the start of the new term. However back to school is not stress-free for everyone with almost a quarter (23%) of parents admitting to feeling nervous or worried about their child’s return to school. And in an age where image counts, 39% of mums admit to making an effort to look smart or dress up at the school gate.

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