My Back to School Rant 2011

Little people play a large part in many of our lives, and will be providing essential services when many of us are drooling into our Zimmerframes etc. Hence, one would imagine that provision for children should, perhaps, be considered a priority, since they are the only future a nation has.

However, it appears our shortsighted politicians, with one eye on the IMF/EU/ECB troika, and the other, no doubt, on the business vote and the next election, are neglecting to ensure reasonable provision for children and parents alike. Our education system is currently, I have discovered, far from free.

Notably, also, provisions to account for the fact that the odd woman in our supposedly 21st century society actually still works full time are sadly lacking. School bills and organization…. I’m beginning to find this unbelievable. Note: my kids are at a state school. Warning; rant alert!

We are nowhere near the end of September, yet, and in fairness to us, we tried to spread the bills by buying required uniform in June, and the school books were also ordered and paid for at the end of the summer. In fairness, the school had them delivered for us to pick up there, which was good.

BUT; the uniforms; two crested tops plus shirt, plus skirts for the girls, all 20-30 euros each. Great fun if you have one of each sex. Trousers can be had from Dunnes. Bill; well over €100.

Then the books; about €150 for both.

Then the September bills; €24-6something for school milk for 2, E2 per child for headphones for the computers (it appears no item is too small to individually charge parents for). €110 odd for a school book sharing/equipment scheme (two kids), and €140 for the “highly recommended” Playball activity (this is per term, so two more such bills during the year), €20 for compulsory parents association contribution, plus extra for any activities….

Oh, and next month they’ll be looking for the “voluntary contribution”; €500 for two children.

I estimate that the compulsory (not including extra curricular activities) elements of this have cost me €960 so far. How the hell do the unemployed/low waged cope?

I’m in a major deficit for this month and both myself and the other half are lucky enough to actually work full time

Which leads me to another gripe; the school has organized two SEPARATE parents info sessions for the two separate classes my kids are in; AT 12.45 and 1.45 in the MIDDLE OF THE DAY on two DIFFERENT days in ONE WEEK.

Didn’t show up to the one that one child has been through already (figured we knew the score, the teacher hasn’t changed), only to be met with wails from child concerned as she felt she’d been singled out because she was one of the few without a parent present.

And I guess I shouldn’t moan, because our school is one of the few to open at 8.30…many/most are 8.45-9.15, or so I gather. However, whichever of us does the school run doesn’t get to work until 9.30, even so.

So HOW THE HELL are we supposed to pay all the blinking bills, deal with the escalating mortgage, pay the afterschool childcare, keep our jobs, and show up to all the BLOODY midday school info sessions, all at the same time??

Oh, and on the childcare front; that is €1240 per month, but fortunately also covers all the “planning days” the schools like to spring on us with little warning, plus half terms, Christmas, Easter, 9 weeks of summer breaks, so possibly this is a bargain. However, most kids decide they are bored with that sort of afterschool/summer camp provision at ages 7-9 and there is nothing, NOTHING that is well organised that can replace it for children between 9 and 14. One should note that the law prohibits people from allowing their kids to stay home alone at these ages; but in any case, many live too far from their schools to ensure that their kids can walk home safely anyway.

Our teachers, while I would be the first to say that they do an excellent job under pressure, are also working (at least at primary level) with some of the shortest days and longest school holidays in Western Europe, and by comparison with much of the EU, are well remunerated. Would it not be possible to ask them to run the odd evening session? If not, could they not run the school info sessions at drop off time, meaning 1 hour of missed work, not a whole half day?

In the UK and the Netherlands at least, school days go to 3.30, and the summer holidays are 6 weeks and not 9. Sweden provides morning to evening childcare for those that wish to work. And just in case this article spurs a stay at home mum backlash, I should point out that one’s entitlement to all sorts of welfare related help on your own merit (in the event of the earning spouse becoming ill/having an accident/running off with the au pair/being made redundant) seems to diminish rapidly with every year out of work. May the Lord help those whose earning spouse is self-employed; if the business doesn’t afford one a family income and one spouse hasn’t worked for ages, the amounts to which one is entitled are very minimal.

A Note to our Glorious Leaders…. if you want qualified women to keep working and support your gradually expiring economy and pay their exorbitant debts, could you PLEASE ENSURE THE &*)&^($%$^ EDUCATION SYSTEM PROVIDES SOME SUPPORT…. at a reasonable cost

Oh, and the class sizes; 30 for one child, now 31 for the other….


Morticia 12 Sept 2011

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