Little Miss started school back in September. In England children start school the September after they turn four. For me, it’s too young. It’s too young to be in school 5 days a week for over 6 hours a day. Not only that but it’s so much more structured from the very start in comparison to when I went but I guess in a way, LM needed it. She’s smart and she enjoys the social side of it and even though I toyed with the idea of home schooling, ultimately I knew it would be detrimental to her development.
So I psyched myself up and shipped her off to primary school. And although I’d psyched myself up for the mental drain it would be being away from her all day, I was not prepared for the sheer cost of a child in primary school. Yes, I know from experience that being in University is an expensive business, but I did not anticipate how many hidden costs there would be of a child in a FREE government run school (because lets face it, if I had the money LM would be a private school because I’m a snobby mummy and only want what’s best for her!) However I’m a self employed single mum who budgets down to her last penny, so unexpected costs to do with school are not my favourite thing! I thought I’d share a few with you today;
This is one of my most recent expense findings, school photos. Yes, they look so nice and the kids always look so grown up, but you want how much for one photo? I’m lucky that this year my parents and grandparents really wanted a photo so they chipped in but over £20 for one big, two medium and 3 small photos.. WITHOUT FRAMES. I remember being a kid and the photos always came in the cardboard frames, not these days! You even have to cut around the photo as they all have the information on them! And if you want the digital copy of ONE photo so you can print it out yourself, £16.50.. ouch.
Last year, two weeks before they broke up from school I was asked to find £13.50 for a school trip to a farm, in the middle of winter. Not only that she needed wellies and a waterproof coat. She didn’t have a waterproof coat, her winter coat is one of those wool pea coats so out I had to go to buy a waterproof (thankfully my mum had wellies). But hardly money you’d be wanting to shell out a few weeks before Christmas! You don’t want to be that mum saying your kid can’t go because you don’t have that money so you have to find it. Yes, she really enjoyed the farm, she saw Santa and got some magic reindeer food.. but I could have taken her to a free Santa and I know she would have loved that just as much! I swear when I was a kid you never paid more than £5 for a school trip, and even then we only had one, in the summer before breaking up for the summer. And did I mention the same week was her school party (party dress & food for the buffet needed paying for..) and a Christmas raffle?
The first term reception children were given free milk. That’s fine. Second term we get a letter home asking us to pay for milk. I have no idea how much milk costs but I’m sure you didn’t pay for it “back in the day”. After a little chat with LM we decided to not bother with the milk. There is free fruit on offer at break or tap water and since she likes water, I figured it’s best we go for that. She already chooses packed lunch over free school dinners and that’s pay out enough.
I don’t begrudge giving to charities at all or the schools supporting charities. But it’s everything that goes along with it that isn’t just donating money that I hadn’t even given a second thought to prior to her starting school. But these days there feels like there is so much more dressing up involved and that’s the expensive part. You don’t want your child to be the only one not dressed up, or not adhering to the theme. My daughter’s school isn’t too bad on this but my nephew’s school. One week it was dressing up as knights for a banquet, then it was World Book Day followed by Comic Relief! World Book Day was smurfs theme, I mean who has a smurfs costume lying around? Then Comic Relief was superheroes! Thankfully my sister was prepared for that one but the other two in the space of 6 weeks left her out of pocket! I’m 99% sure she didn’t budget for that happening when she got paid! Not only that but they give you like two weeks notice MAX for these sort of things. We live in a small town, certain sizes sell out FAST.
So we have a school uniform, school shoes, bag, pack lunch box, daily pack lunch food, school trips, photos, milk, charities.. I dread to think how much this all adds up to.. and then there is the school fund raising events.. discos, bingos, coffee mornings, raffles, school fares, book fares.. I was so naive to think that LM being in school would only be the cost of the uniform at the start of the year, no.. I must be a good few hundreds worse off since she went and I still have a term left to go!
I know there are some children in the world that don’t have education, who would do anything to go to school but it doesn’t take away from how much it truly costs a parent in this country to send your child! I’m glad LM has this opportunity, she’s receiving an education that will help her in life, sadly I’m not sure my purse feels the same!