Am I legally obligated to buy everything on my child's school stationery list? An expert advises

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Back-to-school stationery list shock is real. (iStock)
Back-to-school stationery list shock is real. (iStock)

If your child is starting Grade 1 next year you might have already received the school's stationary list for 2022. If you have, it's understandable that you're maybe having a hard time taking it all in.  

And even if you're a seasoned parent with kids in several grades, the dreaded stationary list can strike fear into any heart.

From the glue sticks to the reams of paper and even toilet rolls, back-to-school stationery shopping is no joke. 

With schools requiring more than one of each item for the entire year, you may be wondering if your pocket can manage all that strain. 

Every year parents reach out to us asking if they really have to buy each and every item listed, including items like toilet paper, and if they are compelled to buy it all at once, and what they can do if they just don't have the cash for it. 

Held to ransom

According to Sue Larkan of Tabansi, a specialist in laws relating to school issues and parent's rights, "The school cannot hold you to ransom" regarding certain items as well as the amount of each item a parent can afford. 

"It will obviously assist the school's expenses if parents contributed towards toilet rolls... [but] the school cannot demand [toiletries] as such," she advised, adding that "the parent does not need to supply all of this at once, and maybe just one pack per term is a suggestion". 

'Not legally binding'

In the case of parents who truly are out of pocket given the tough financial circumstances of the past two years, Larkan says the stationery requirements are not "legally binding". 

Explaining further, Larkan notes that schools, especially Quintile 4 and 5 schools, receive a very low budget to run and maintain their schools.

She adds "This is my personal gripe as well, hence the high school fees. Schools are trying to lower their expenditure from their budgets."

But, she clarifies, at the end of the day, the school is responsible for the hygiene and cleanliness of their property and facilities. 

"The parent need only contribute voluntarily what [they] can," she advises. 

Are you stressed about the back-to-school budget? 


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