No free education: Parents spend $592 per child on back to school costs

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If you feel like getting the kids ready for school only gets more expensive every year, then you're right.

BIG W's Annual Back to School Report, conducted through YouGov, shows the cost of getting kids back to school will increase by 10 percent in 2021. 

Aussie parents are set to spend an average of $592 per child, after the average figure rose last year by 13 percent

A major new expense for parents is technology, with items such as laptops, headphones and tablets now often a part of everyday learning.

Technology costs an average of $284 on tech items per child - an increase of 17 per cent on last year, and more than any other category.  

Other back to school items include:

  • School uniforms - $180
  • School shoes - $111
  • Stationery - $92
  • School bags - $58
  • Lunch boxes and water bottles - $43
  • All other items - $108

With costs always on the rise, it is not surprising that many parents try to lessen the blow by planning their back to school spending well in advance. 

The report found more than half (57 per cent) of families plan for back to school needs at least one month in advance, however as many as one in ten admit to leaving back to school shopping until the last week, or few days, before school returns. 


Although school costs are on the rise, Australian parents have found ways to budget. The report found being organised to be the main way parents reduce costs; with 44 percent saying they buy supplies when they're on sale. About 40 per cent strictly stick to the essentials on the book list while 37 percent are re-using things that weren't used in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Almost a third of parents are also embracing buying second hand items and 16 percent have craftily gifted some school supplies as Christmas presents.​

Money expert Vanessa Stoykov says although school costs are increasing, there are ways to keep costs low.

"Be organised and have a clear path," she suggests. "Plan your costs now, as it puts less pressure on you financially, and take advantage of online shopping, it saves you time and lets you compare prices."

Unsurprisingly, three-quarters of parents are looking forward to a (hopefully) enjoying a normal school year in 2021, with 69 percent of children excited to start the new school year.