Parents tested by school sums of £84 billion

Article date: 6 September 2002

The new school term marks the beginning of an 11-year spendingspree by parents costing as much as £84 billion* a new studyreveals today.

Norwich Union’s ‘School Sums’ research revealsthat the total average cost of sending a child to state school -from the age of 5 through to age 16 - is just under £10,000.

Parents can expect to fork out in total a staggering £7.7billion just in the 2002/3 school year on the everyday costsassociated with their kids’ education. That works out atnearly £900 per child per school year.

The national shopping list for parents just for the 2002/3school year will include around:

  • 35 million shirts or blouses
  • 27 million trousers or skirts
  • 18 million jumpers
  • 18 million pairs of shoes
  • 18 million schoolbooks
  • 9 million coats
  • 9 million bags and rucksacks
  • 9 million sets of sports kit

Other findings from the School Sums research were:

  • Over a child’s school lifetime - totalling eleven years- their parents will have to pay for 22 school trips, 44 shirts orblouses, 33 pairs of trousers or skirts, 22 jumpers and 22 pairsof shoes.
  • Parents of girls face a larger bill as they have more spent onbooks, trips and after-school clubs.
  • Costs go up when children enter secondary education with theannual spend rising by over £60 due to the increased cost ofuniforms, sports kit and excursions.

But despite the expense, making extra financial provision forthe everyday costs associated with school may be difficult for manyfamilies as more than half of those questioned said their mainmoney concern was simply keeping their heads above water.

Ian Beggs, from Norwich Union, said: “Many parents thinkof state schools as being free but the costs are significant.Nearly £8 billion of our money gets spent each year just coveringthe everyday costs of sending our children to school. That’snearly £900 per year per child.

“It’s important to allow for these costs whenmanaging your finances. If parents do their school sums nowthey’ll know what they need to put aside.”

Media Contacts:
Gill Munro or Liz Fay at QBO on 020 7379 0304 or the Norwich UnionLife press office on 01904 452 828.

Notes to Editors

  • * This figure does not include allowance for inflation orpopulation changes.
  • The total cost of sending a child to school was calculated bythe following method: Parents were asked to give the average costand frequency of purchase per year for a selection of schoolrelated items. The sum of all items taken as an average, is thecost per year per child. This figure was multiplied by the totalnumber of school years (from 5 to 16) to give the cost per schoollife. The overall national cost over 11 years was calculated bymultiplying this figure by the number of school children in the UK(8,871,114. Sources: Office for National Statistics, ScottishExecutive Education Department, Department for Education andSkills, Schools Census, Digest of Welsh Statistics 2001).
  • Norwich Union commissioned Brand and Issues Research tointerview 500 parents of school age children in August 2002.Regional statistics are available on request.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer. It is theUK’s largest provider of life, pensions and investmentproducts and one of the leading IFA providers.
  • Norwich Union has strategic alliances with building societiesand other leading UK brand names including Tesco Personal Financeand The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases are available on the Avivaplc website at
  • A selection of images are available from the Norwich UnionNewscast site at

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