School costs continue to pile up for parents

More than £500 per year per child to be spent on school lunch and travel

11 September 2013

With uniforms, shoes, sports kit and stationery all purchased and most children back at school, parents now have to find an average of £5741 for each child per year to pay for travelling to school and ensuring that they are properly fed at lunchtime, according to latest research2 from Nationwide Building Society.

School lunch

Parents will spend on average £1.88 on each child per day on school lunch, which equates to £366.60 over the course of a school year. Despite a government-commissioned report* pushing to ban packed lunches, they still remain the most popular option with 43 per cent of parents indicating that is what their child will generally have for lunch. A third (33 per cent) say their child will have a school dinner and nearly one in five (18 per cent) admit their child will have a combination of both school dinners and packed lunches.

There are various reasons given by parents surveyed as to why their child will have a particular lunch. While cheap and healthy are noted as reasons for choosing a specific type of school lunch by 30 per cent and 34 per cent of respondents respectively, nearly three in five (57 per cent) admit that how their child will eat at school is partly or solely due to what the child wants. Two fifths (40 per cent) say it is because of convenience.

School run

For parents whose children will usually go to school by car (29 per cent), public transport (12 per cent) or even the school bus (10 per cent), the school run is yet another expense with £5.31 a week to be spent per child, which equates to £207.09 in total per child during the academic year. However, some will avoid most of this cost as 46 per cent of parents say their child will usually walk or cycle to school.

Richard Napier, Nationwide's divisional director for savings and mortgages, comments: "There is a never ending circle of school costs for parents. No sooner have they finished paying for the uniform, shoes, bags, stationery and other essentials necessary for the start of term, parents have to turn their attention to how their children are going to get to school and be fed at lunchtime.

"Add this to money spent during the summer holidays and in preparation for the new school year, it is easy to understand why school life can be a financial burden on parents. That is why it is important to plan ahead and prepare for these costs. By saving money regularly, for example, parents can ease the pressure on the household budget and demonstrate to their kids the benefits and importance of saving."

Notes to editors:

1 This figure relates to parents who know what they were likely to spend and provided a monetary figure.
Figures are based on YouGov research and Nationwide calculations.

School year: 39 weeks or 195 days
School lunch: £1.88 per day x 195 days = £366.60
School travel: £5.31 per week x 39 weeks = £207.09

2 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov plc. Total sample size was 1,012 UK parents of children aged 5-16 years whose child will be attending school in the next academic year. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th - 13th August 2013. The survey was carried out online.


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