The Cost of Going Back to School

Posted 05/11/2013 by BrightHouse Team

Now the nights are drawing in and October half term is out of the way we can start to reflect on what it has actually cost to get the kids ready for the new school year again.

There are new uniforms to buy, new stationary and equipment, sports kits, musical instruments, laptops – the items mount up. And of course they want the latest pencil cases, backpacks, and computing devices, the very latest, most fashionable, and most expensive products. It can end up costing a small fortune every year, especially if your children are going to secondary school or college.

Here at BrightHouse we decided to find out what the average cost is for going back to school. We surveyed over 3000 parents of primary, secondary, and college age students, to discover how much they typically spent at the start of each new school year, and which age of student is likely to cost the most.

One of the costs that really can’t be avoided is school uniform. Kids grow all the time, and there are only so many times you can let out a hem before you run out trouser leg. The problem is that some schools are quite restrictive on where parents can purchase new uniform, occasionally using only a single supplier. This can add a significant amount to the cost of uniform, as parents cannot shop around for better deals. Over 40% of respondents to our survey said they spend more than £50 on uniform.

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One of the other main areas of expense for going back to school is new technology. These days, access to their own computer is generally a necessity for kids, especially as they move further up towards college and sixth form. Even for younger children, getting used to using computers has become a central part of education, as there is so much opportunity for learning through this medium. At primary school ages, the latest tablet computers are thought of as among the most important back to school purchases.

The inevitable mobile phone purchase starts to become prevalent in secondary school, being by far the most commonly bought technology item by parents of this age group. Apart from being a way for staying in contact with their friends, smartphones give children access to a whole world of online information and communication, and they perform a good portion of their social interaction through online networks.

As students progress through the different levels of education, the costs keep mounting up too. A large portion of respondents with kids in primary school spent less than £20 on new equipment each year, whereas 60% of parents with college level kids spent at least £200, with half of those spending up to £400!

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A laptop has become an essential item for students of this age, as they are starting to write more and more essays, use programs such as Microsoft Power Point for presentations, and also make more use of the wealth of information online for research (as well as the inevitable social networking.)

The average spend for the college age group was well over twice the cost of the primary school age group, and significantly more than the secondary school age group.

You can find all the results of our survey, as well as our final average spend figure, depicted on our website but of course the parents among you will be all too familiar with the sudden outflow of funds that happens at the end of every summer, and the figures may not come as too much of a surprise.

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