Understanding the cost of education to households in the UK

New analysis undertaken by the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) – for Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) – shows that parents typically need to find at least £39 per week for a child’s secondary school education and £19 for a primary-aged child.

Although education is free at the point of access, in reality the cost of uniform, learning materials, school trips, packed lunch and transport sets most parents back at least £39.01 per week, per secondary school child and £18.69 per primary child.

The findings are based on the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) research programme, which since 2008 has set out what the public think is needed for a minimum socially acceptable living standard in the UK. The analysis focusing on education, costing-up what parents who took part in focus groups between 2012 and 2022 said children and their families need specifically to meet children’s minimum educational needs.

Excluding before and after-school childcare and household costs like printers, the research found the annual price tag for going to secondary school is £1,755.97 per child and £864.87 for a primary school child. That’s £18,345.85 for children to go through all 14 years of school.

Co-director of CRSP, Matt Padley, who undertook the analysis with fellow Co-Director Abigail Davis, said: “Our Minimum Income Standard research sets out what parents agree is needed as a minimum for children to be able to participate fully in school life. Having the resources at home necessary to do homework, having what’s needed to join a school sports team and go on educational school trips, having school uniform that fits – all of this comes at a cost, and not being able to do these things can have really damaging short and long term consequences for children.  In the current climate, with significant and persistent pressures on household finances, it is vital that we develop and implement policies and systems across the UK that support all young people to meet their basic educational needs, but beyond this enable them to thrive in education.”

The full report can be found here