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Parents Council calls to rethink ‘bugbear’ school book-packs

By Lachlan Roberts 3 February 2019 29

Packing pains: parents council urge Education Directorate to reconsider school book-packs.

The peak body for public school parents is calling for a rethink of school book-packs, saying the packs can be a bugbear and a financial burden on families.

ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations believes low-income and large families are disadvantaged by the way many schools arrange their annual book-packs and are calling for the Education Directorate to re-evaluate.

At the end of each year, schools ask parents to purchase a pack of supplies of stationery, notepads and books – arranged through a set supplier – for each student. Council’s executive member Crystal Cox said most parents are usually happy to buy the packs but the devil in the detail makes the packs a bugbear for many parents.

“Parents are asked to pay in Term 4 – in the lead up to Christmas – but Government assistance for low-income families doesn’t arrive until February or March,” Ms Cox said.

“There is usually a financial penalty if you wait to buy the pack in the new year and the extra fee is applied for each student, which penalises larger families and those on low incomes.”

Ms Cox said some schools add voluntary contributions to the book-packs, which can also increase the financial burden at a difficult time of year. While most schools offer sibling discounts on voluntary contributions, there is no way of applying these in the pre-ordered format of book-packs.

“We need better payment options for families, especially large families, such as instalment payments without penalties,” she said. “We would really like to see voluntary contributions or subject contributions separated from the book-pack process.”

The Council also raised concerns about the quality of items in the bundles of school supplies parents are asked to purchase each year, saying they receive regular complaints about the quality of the items.

“Low-quality items can mean that they don’t last so the class is left short. We would like the Education Directorate to be more fastidious in negotiating the supplier’s contract,” Ms Cox said.

“Quality education for all obviously relies on access to school supplies. We’d like families to know that if they are struggling, they should contact their school’s principal or front office team, who may be able to offer assistance.”

Are school book-packs a bugbear or financial burden for your family? 


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15 Responses to
Parents Council calls to rethink ‘bugbear’ school book-packs
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Maelinar 8:11 am 04 Feb 19

A lot of the commenters here have obviously not been around at the end of a school year, where the remainder of the stationery is bundled up and given back to the students.

Its also not fair on a child to give them a 2 year old, chewed dingy pencil to work with, let alone a set of textas where half of them probably don’t work – this is why the schools ‘reset’ at the start of each year to give your cherubs the best possible outcome and removing an obvious line of complaint from the over-anxious parents that we-all-know-who-you-are in explaining why their cherub isn’t getting an A in class.

My Daughter has for several years run a donation collection at the end of the year and sent all the spare school equipment to buk bilong pikinini in PNG – we didn’t need a 3rd or 4th set of the stuff at home (I’m looking at you, sniggle) and it does a ton of better work up there.

So, that’s why you get asked, and now you know what you can do with the returned equipment at the end of the year.

Louise Fitzgerald 3:53 pm 03 Feb 19

I no longer purchase the pack. I have found it excessive and wasteful, and not good quality under current provider. Prefer to shop elsewhere.

Elspeth Shannon Rollason 2:32 pm 03 Feb 19

I have always had ridiculous amounts left over each yr so for the last few yrs I haven't gotten the pack. This yr I didn't have to buy anything with what was left over or not fully used from 2018. Why are we having to supplement 2 boxes of tissues and 2 A4 packs of paper? That's ridiculous as well. I have also heard of a primary school that has become BYOD. Not on. All ACT students starting high school and college get a chromebook so why are primary schools asking for BYOD?

Peter Bee 2:19 pm 03 Feb 19

Stationery not stationary

Stephanie Tyrrell 2:06 pm 03 Feb 19

It seems a very wasteful way to do it. Buy as needed and no one needs everything brand new each year. I wouldn't have a problem contributing to a "spares" supply for disadvantaged children.

Lauryn Roberts 1:44 pm 03 Feb 19

School kids bounus should have gone directly to the schools the kids are enrolled in for school book packs and towards uniforms or activities and it shouldn’t have been cut out.

Katy Skinner 12:28 pm 03 Feb 19

Use all exercise books first, right up to end. Re-cover (in paper, please) fir new year/ subject if you like. Clip together or cut off last year’s pages. School keeps pencils, issues as needed.

Gareth Rowlands 11:53 am 03 Feb 19

I'm from the UK and we don't buy a single a thing for sending kids to school except uniforms. School provides it all. Needless to say it was a shock here when my wife told be they have to each have this giant box of stationary to take with them!

Jenni Zimoch 10:35 am 03 Feb 19

It'd be good if we got the unused stuff back before we have to order for the next year too.

And the recommended supplier costs more than Office Works.

    Katherine Murray 12:14 pm 03 Feb 19

    Every single item I give has their name on....every pencil, texta, sharpener, scissors.... Usually I get stuff sent back home at end of year. Last year I went looking in their classroom to see what was left over. After all your comments, I'm thinking I will hold a chunk back this year though lol

Michael Richer 10:21 am 03 Feb 19

Wake up act schools we should only buy what we need for the start of the year nor the whole year. What happens to the stock left over each year? The pencils etc don’t have a use by date! We only had what we needed at the start of the year, kept using our pens and pencils from year to year till they needed replacing! Wake up schools!

Shannon Lee 10:18 am 03 Feb 19

Alison Hume this us what we were talking about the other day

Sarah Everingham 10:08 am 03 Feb 19

There’s also the BYOD costs. I also don’t see how a Year 3 student is going to use 18 exercise books in one year!

Sarelle Woodward 10:06 am 03 Feb 19

With two children, we have so many leftovers at the end of each year. As we (theoretically) move toward an electronic way of life, having a workbook per subject doesn’t make sense.

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