Children's charity Barnardos has called for a back-to-school grant available to poorer families to be restored to 2010 levels.

Publishing the results of a survey of parents today, the organisation has also called for more direct investment in schools.

Almost half of parents who filled in a questionnaire on the charity's website said they cut back on daily expenses or forgo other bills in order to equip their children for the new school year.

This year around 194,000 schoolchildren - or one in every five - are expected to avail of the State's Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.

The allowance amounts to €125 for a primary school child and €250 at secondary level.

However, the real cost of equipping a child for September appears to be much greater, at least according to this survey by Barnardos.

People who responded to the questionnaire said they were paying on average almost €400 to kit out a primary school child, and double that for a student entering secondary school.

The charity has called for the back-to-school allowance to be returned to 2010 levels - when it stood at between €200 and €300.

The charity also said that if an additional €100 million was spent at primary level, then free primary education could become a reality.

Head of Advocacy at Barnardos June Tinsley said parents are feeling overburdened by school costs.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Tinsley said this year's survey shows the actual amounts do not differ hugely from previous years but the overall costs are leaving parents frustrated.

"Primary level uniforms cost €95, school books €85 and voluntary contributions came down slightly," she said.

She also said the survey shows that book rental schemes are varied in what they cover.