A Barnardos survey shows the first year of secondary school now costs €765 per pupil 'for the basics'
Many parents are going into debt to cover 'back to school' costs, the children's charity Barnardos has warned.
The charity's Annual School Costs Survey has found that 11% of primary school parents are forced to borrow money to cover annual costs.
That number rises to 21% for secondary school parents.
According to the survey, the average cost of the 'basics' for a first year pupil is €765.
At primary level, the basic cost per year for a senior infant pupil is now €360 - and that rises to €380 by fourth class.
More than 50% of parents at both levels reported an increase in the cost of school books, while more than two-thirds have been asked to pay a voluntary contribution.
June Tinsley, Barnardos Head of Advocacy, suggested that the back to school period places a strain on the finances of 'all parents, regardless of income'.
She observed: "This experience is magnified for families who are already struggling financially or have additional family challenges.
"By refusing to commit the relatively small amount of money required to fully fund the education system, the Government is placing families under significant stress and are running the risk of leaving the most vulnerable children without the basics they need to learn."
She called on all politicians to make 'truly free education' a political priority.