Belfast Telegraph

All families are feeling the squeeze, says father-of-four

By Jonathan Bell

Dylan Quinn (43) runs a dance company in Enniskillen - where parents pay the most to send their children to school.

He has four children: Luca (14), Taeya (13), Sunnee (11) and four-year-old Laila. Two attend primary, while the others attend a grammar.

He said: "Our schools specify a single supplier for uniforms. It costs between £95 and £125 for a blazer when a skirt costs £35 and trousers £29.

"There are other shops that sell cheaper items, but they are not authorised by the school. Then there is the PE kit, which can be £125 per child.

"There needs to be a serious reconsideration of uniform policies - that is my main concern. It should not all have to come from one store.

"There can be a benefit of wearing uniforms for parents, but does wearing one necessarily impact education?

"You can budget for uniform because you know those costs are coming up and you can plan through the year. Then you have voluntary contributions, which they say are 'voluntary' but then constantly write to you asking why you haven't paid.

"The cost of activities, trips, events you know nothing about in advance, all mount up.

"In June there were a number of costs all at once and we paid out over £100. It wouldn't be that much, but there would be regular requests for payments nearly each month.

"And the fear as a parent is that you don't want to exclude your child from something that all the other children are doing.

"There can be a lot of pressure on children and then on their parents to pay for it. You don't want your child being isolated because of something you can't afford.

"I often wonder, do the boards ever consider the impact these costs have on parents - and not just low-income families? We are all feeling the squeeze."

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