Cost of 'free' education rises above £10,000

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The Independent Online

The cost of a free state school education has risen to more than £10,000 for the first time, a survey shows. Parents' contributions to secondary schools average £1,195.47 a year.

In primary schools, the figure is £683.79. It means the average parent is paying £10,080.69 through the 11 years of compulsory schooling – a rise of 4 per cent since the last survey in 2003. The costs include school trips, uniforms, sports equipment, travel to away games and donations.

The survey, commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, also showed two-thirds of children eligible for free school meals failed to take them up.

The Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, criticised schools that insisted parents buy uniforms from one supplier, rather than allowing them to shop around.

Kate Green, of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: "School costs take far too big a bite out of the income of families who cannot afford it."

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