Parents tested by school sums bill of £129 billion

Article date: 16 August 2006

  • Norwich Union ‘School Sums’ Index reveals thetrue cost of sending the nation’s children toschool

The new school year marks the beginning of an 11-year spendingspree by parents costing as much as £129 billion*, a new indexreveals today - an increase of over £40 billion in four years.

Norwich Union’s ‘School Sums’ index revealsthat the total average cost of sending a child to state school -from the age of 5 through to age 16 - is now just over £14,000compared to £10,000 in 2002.

In total UK parents can expect to fork out a staggering £11.8billion just in the 2006/7 school year on the everyday costsassociated with their kids’ education. That works out at£1,300 per child per school year.

The top three most expensive components of a child’sschooling are:

1) Transport – costing UK parents a total of over£2.5 billion a year (£301 per child per year) with a third ofchildren being taken to school by car

2) Food – parents spend £2.4 billion a year onlunches (£270 per child per year) with more being spent a week onpacked lunches than school dinners

3) Shoes – costing UK parents a total of £618million a year (£70 per child per year), which comes in moreexpensive than text books

Other findings from the Norwich Union ‘School Sums’research were:

  • Over a child’s school lifetime - totalling 11 years -their parents will have to pay on average for 43 shirts orblouses, 48 pairs of trousers or skirts, 38 jumpers, 37 pairs ofshoes and 33 school trips
  • Parents of boys face a slightly larger total bill as they havemore spent on after school tuition, clothes and after schoolclubs, although parents of girls can expect to fork out more onshoes than for boys
  • Mobile and internet technology continues to be a major costcoming in at approximately the same amount as sports kit over achild’s school lifetime (£550 per child)
  • In 11 years of schooling parents can expect to spend onaverage around 1000 hours (the equivalent to six weeks) helpingtheir children with homework

Making extra financial provision for the everyday costsassociated with school may be something that is overlooked by manyparents.

Simon Quick from Norwich Union said: “Many parents thinkof state schools as being free but the costs are significant. Over£1000 of parents' money gets spent per child each year justcovering the everyday costs of sending our children to school. Thisquickly racks up for families with two or three children and withan increase of £200 per child a year over the last four years,parents need to consider the increasing needs and demands of ourchildren!”

“It’s important to allow for these costs whenmanaging your finances. If parents do their school sums now,they’ll know what they need to put aside and be more preparedfor the future.”

The national shopping list for parents just for the 2006/7school year will include around:

  • 35 million shirts or blouses
  • 38 million trousers or skirts
  • 30 million jumpers
  • 29 million pairs of shoes
  • 13 million schoolbooks
  • 15 million coats
  • 14 million bags and rucksacks
  • 15 million sets of sports kit


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(National Office of Statistics figure for 2003 (not includingchildren in nursery, non maintained, special, pupil referral unitsor “other” secondary education) 8,819,000)

Norwich Union commissioned to interview 1000parents of school age children in August 2006. Regional statisticsare available on request.

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