Why Don’t Spanish Schools Want Parents To Save?
A few days ago there was a comment on the Money Saver Spain Facebook page about the high price of a school skirt at El Corte Inglés and I started to think about costs in general in Spanish schools and how they could help parents to save.
As my children have attended three different schools in Spain: private, state and now subsidised (concertado), I’ve had the chance to compare over the years. Obviously each parent’s own experience is what counts, but there are some general areas where there’s a lot of scope to reduce costs:
School uniforms: Before choosing a particular school you know if they use a uniform or not and some people argue that uniforms solve the problem of kids always wanting the latest brand/style of footwear or clothing. However, International and Spanish schools are hiking up the prices of uniforms by limiting their availability by selling them only in El Corte Inglés or only in a local shop with fixed prices. Some schools have even limited sales to within the school itself. Including a logo on jumpers & trousers means that you can’t get a way with buying items from the local Carrefour either! In the town where I live I spoke with the only shop that sold the local school uniforms and the owner told me that she no longer sold them as the school itself had decided to do it – hence her business had lost a lot of sales.
School text books: As mentioned in my last blog post – who’d dare suggest to school governors that it’s totally out of order to change text books yearly, even though there’s a law which says that they shouldn’t. No hard evidence here that schools are getting a “back hander” from text book publishers, but otherwise why would they be changing books every 12 months? At least now there are lots of book exchange websites which hopefully will continue to function after the recession is over.
School materials: Many schools still give a list to kids at the beginning of each school year with materials they have to buy (pencils, notebooks, drawing books, etc.). However it makes a lot more sense to buy in bulk, get lower prices and just charge parents for the cost once a year. This doesn’t have to go against local businesses either as schools could support them rather than using larger national stores.
Lunch: The recession has meant that parents requested the possibility that their children could take packed lunches to school. However, in many regions in Spain schools are actually charging for this service (use of microwave ovens and supervision during lunch hour). Packed lunches are a new idea in Spanish schools for parents to save money, so what have schools done to make sure they don’t miss out? Charge between 2€ or 3€ a day which seems like a total rip-off.
Extra classes: These are optional extras, but the cost is still important. Kids often prefer to practice sports with their friends at school clubs rather than join a local municipal sports club. Result: along with the cost of extra classes once again the sports clothes will be sold at limited outlets at inflated prices.
Possible solutions? Parent associations should probably be the first place to start off when suggesting change, however many people find it hard to raise their voice publicly (speaking from personal experience after receiving glaring stares for timidly suggesting changes!).
I’d like to hear about other parents’ experiences about expenses at International or Spanish schools in Spain. Is it expected that parents will just pay for everything without questioning the cost?
Related post: What’s Your Definition Of Thrift?