Government must honour commitment to tackle back to school costs – O’Loughlin

Published on: 23 July 2018

Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare South and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Education Committee Fiona O’Loughlin has called on the Government to honour its commitment to increase capitation grants for primary and secondary schools.

Deputy O’Loughlin made the comments as families prepare themselves for an influx of school related bills as September approaches.

Deputy O’Loughlin said, “Back to school costs represent a major financial challenge for many families. The cost of sending a child to school can reach up to €1,500 between new uniform costs, book expenses, transport charges and voluntary charges which aren’t really voluntary whatsoever. This doesn’t take into account additional costs associated with extra-curricular activities such as school trips.

“Last year St Vincent de Paul revealed that a record number of parents made contact with them looking for assistance in meeting back to school costs. Parents are struggling to meet these costs which are rising year on year. It’s becoming even more challenging as more and more schools are requiring parents to purchase new technology such as tablets.

“There is an onus on schools to reduce the back to school costs wherever possible. Generic uniforms should be encouraged alongside book loan schemes. However, the Government needs to acknowledge that the capitation grant no longer comes close to covering back to school costs for parents.

“In the 2016 Programme for Government, Fine Gael committed to increasing capitation grants for both primary and secondary schools to help pay for the services they provide to schools. However the Government has failed to move on this commitment since coming to office. This simply isn’t good enough.

“Schools are crying out for additional funding. The costs associated with running a modern school continue to rise yet the Government has decided that the schools don’t need any additional funding. The end result is school principals are having to pass these increased costs to parents.

“Budget 2019 needs to take into account the rising cost of schools and the impact it is having on families,” concluded Deputy O’Loughlin.

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