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Row over back to school prices

While one family association says costs for children starting collège are down - others beg to differ.

A claim by the association Familles de France that the cost of school books and equipment for children starting collège has fallen 7.7% on last year has been met with disbelief by similar groups.

The association’s study found that families had to pay an average of €190.82 per child entering sixième - the first year of collège compared with €206.68 in 2007.

Greater prudence on behalf of parents (steering away from brand names) and the liste Darcos- a government deal with supermarkets and stores to freeze prices on certain school items - are believed to have helped, according to the association’s report.

Association president Henri Joyeux said it was the first time such a drop had been seen in 24 years.

The general secretary of the Confédération Syndicale des Familles (CSF) Brigitte Masure said the results of their study – due to be published next week – showed prices had risen at least 3%.

The confederation’s study includes the costs of items not on specific school lists, such as clothing.

Roughly three million families in France received the allocation de rentrée scolaire (ARS) yesterday – a benefit which helps cover the cost of materials for school children.

For the first time the benefit was paid according to a child’s age: €272 for those attending école (age six to ten), €287 for those at collège (ages 11-14) and €297 for those at lycée (ages 15-18).

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