The Real Cost of School 2020: Back to School Survey Briefing Paper

Kelly, N., Fleming, P., Demirel, B., & O'Hara, J. (2020). The Real Cost of School 2020; Back to School Survey Briefing Paper.
This year is like no other for children returning to school in September. The Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on schooling in the first half of the year, when schools closed from 12th of March to the end of June of this year. With no notice parents and children had to come to grips with home-schooling, often while parents also tried to work full time from home. For other parents, losing work through job loss or furlough added to the uncertainty and stress. The impending return to school has been at the forefront of parents’ minds, long before the usual August back to school period. There has been an enormous amount of uncertainty and widespread conjecture on what the new school term will be like; but one thing is certain, school will not be the same again. “I have no clue on what it will be like when she goes back and if she will be safe.” In light of what has happened and the new challenges facing families with school age children, this year the Barnardos’ Back to School Survey not only examined the cost of returning to school in September but also the experience of families during school closures and their attitudes about returning to school amid the global pandemic. The findings show parents, struggling to do the best for their children’s education, exacerbated by a lack of communication, clarity and support from the State. While parents are still feeling the burden of the cost of sending their child to school, their overwhelming concerns this year are how their child will cope with socially distanced school life; if their child will be safe; will the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Schools be implemented in time for the start of school term; and what will it mean for their child.