ChildLinks Issue 2: Barnardos' School Costs Survey

Barnardos. (2016). ChildLinks Issue 2: Barnardos' School Costs Survey.
As we begin the new academic year, parents across the country are facing the high costs of educating their children. Education is not free in Ireland. That is the overwhelming message from parents who took the 2016 Barnardos’ School Costs Survey. For more than a decade, thousands of parents have been using the Barnardos’ School Costs Survey to speak out about the high cost of sending their children to school and this year is no different. Ireland’s education system is lauded by Government as free to access; but the responses to this year’s survey tell us otherwise. Under-investment in schools during prosperity and cuts during the recession have left parents shouldering the cost of an underfunded system. It is a burden many parents can ill afford. Parents told us they are scrimping on household bills, forgoing necessities and even going into debt to pay for their child to go to school in Ireland’s supposedly free education system. No child or family should have to suffer in order to access education. The Government has the power and the means to reduce the burden on parents and Barnardos is committed to making this happen. The first article in this issue of ChildLinks examines the results of Barnardos School Costs Survey, looking at the costs of school books, extra school fees and contributions, and school transport. It outlines Barnardos’ recommendations to Government to ensure that all children are on a level playing field with the same opportunities as their peers. The article that follows focuses on children making the move from preschool to primary school and the need to support this transition, which can be stressful and daunting for both young children and their parents. The third article gives an overview of a study that looks at the understanding and implementation of Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework by early years educators. The Nurture Programme – Infant Health and Wellbeing is a programme that has been developed with the aim that every parent in Ireland receives the best possible advice, information and support from conception to the child’s third birthday so that each child gets the best possible start in life. An article from Programme Manager Francis Chance outlines the rationale for the Nurture Programme, the policy context for the programme and some of the key developments planned. The next article looks at the changing expectations of the role of fathers, who now often share in the caring role for their children and are fully involved in their lives. The article looks at this involvement from a child’s perspective through a series of interview questions asking children what they like to do with their fathers and why. The final article in this issue looks at the New Children First Act 2015 and the role of the Early Years Child Protection Programme in preparing the sector for new legislation.