'Up to $2000 per child': The cost of school supplies is crippling parents.

Parents in the public primary school system are being asked to fork out up to $2000 per child for learning materials and uniforms. Tenth generation iPads, earpods, wireless keyboards, laptop devices, stylus pens and $240 book packs feature on many back to school shopping lists and it's pushing some families to the brink financially. 

On top of that there can be voluntary school contributions asked of families at the beginning of each school year or term. Teachers are also dipping into their own pockets to supply basic learning materials that families can't afford.

The price tag on the back to school round up is renewing calls for better funding for the basics of education. Parents are also urging public schools to reconsider whether pricier items on material lists could be purchased by the schools and used as communal resources. There are also families who question whether things like personal iPads actually aid learning.

Watch: Two Types of Parents: School Shopping. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

A national survey conducted by The Smith Family found 9 in 10 Australian families with children on the charity’s Learning for Life program are worried they won't be able to afford back to school essentials.

Half of the families surveyed said they wouldn't be able to afford the digital devices they had been asked to provide which undermines the whole premise of public education providing equal opportunity. "Every Australian would agree that all children should have the same opportunities as their peers at school, so they can achieve their potential," the Smith Family CEO Doug Taylor said in a statement.


Kerry-Anne* (name changed) is a primary school teacher in a lower socio-economic area. She is frustrated that government funding isn't covering the basics for learning. "Only about half of my students come with books and pencils," she says. "The lists are very expensive for sure and unfortunately teachers are then the ones buying books and stationery for the rest of the class out of our own pockets. There absolutely should be government funding for school resources - especially in low socioeconomic schools like mine."

Amanda's kids attend a state school in a higher socio-economic area but says many families will still struggle to afford learning materials. "We have a $240 book list and this would really hurt some families," she said. While Amanda's school sent the book list to families late last year some schools only send material lists in the first week of school.

The amount of funding state schools receive is based on socio-economic contexts but according to the Schooling Resource Standard 98 per cent of public schools are underfunded. This also explains the growing dependency on parents to contribute financially.

Inadequate funding combined with dramatic cost-of-living increases have created a perfect storm for families struggling to afford school items. The National Australia Bank's Consumer Stress Index in recent months have reached it's highest level since the first Covid lockdowns of 2020. As long as costs of housing, rent, electricity and goods and services increases at a faster rate than wage growth, we can expect the difficult times to continue.

Feature Image: Getty.