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Price of public schooling in Australia for the disadvantaged soaring

As a new school year begins, The Smith Family has asked the public to remember the financial stress facing thousands of disadvantaged families as they try to cover the costs of their child’s education.

The national education charity has said that while the beginning of a new school year was a stressful time for most parents and their children, financially challenged families faced the extra pressure of finding the money to pay for uniforms, stationery, shoes and a range of other charges and fees.

The Smith Family has estimated ‘the real cost’ of attending public school at upwards of $2000 for one child (at primary school) over a year.

“For struggling families where every dollar counts, $2000 is a big financial hit,” said Dr Lisa O’Brien, The Smith Family’s CEO.

“From the feedback we’ve been receiving, the cost of simply attending the local public school is getting beyond many disadvantaged families.

“Before your child even walks in the front gate the average parent is looking at spending more than $700 on uniforms, shoes and stationery – and that’s a conservative estimate based on the least expensive purchases at nationally accessible chain stores.

“But once in the gate, and depending on whether your child goes to primary or high school, parents encounter a whole new raft of expenses.

“Certain subjects – because of the materials involved – attract extra charges (eg: design and technology, home economics). Add on things like excursions and textbooks and the costs mount up.

“When children – increasingly at primary school – are also expected to have either a laptop or tablet and access to broadband at home, it’s no wonder many financially disadvantaged families can’t cope.

“Charities like The Smith Family are often the only thing that enables disadvantaged families to fully participate in a comprehensive public school education.

“As the new school year begins, we’re asking Australians to remember those kids who are at risk of being left behind in their education and support our annual Back to School appeal,” said Dr O’Brien.