Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne says the current practice of schools being maintained by voluntary contributions is inequitable and should come to an end.

Deputy Byrne made the comments following the publication of the Barnardos Children’s Charity annual ‘School Costs Survey’.

“Families are under severe pressure to meet the growing costs of school attendance. This survey clearly points out that one of the factors heaping pressure on parents is the expectation to pay school contributions. 79% of primary school parents are asked to pay ‘voluntary’ contributions to help fund schools. Many parents are being pressured and chased for this money,” said Deputy Byrne.

“The capitation grant for schools has fallen significantly since 2011, from €200 per pupil to €173 – an 11% drop. It’s clear that schools are experiencing funding difficulties and parents are expected to make up the shortfall. No consideration is given to whether these parents can afford a voluntary contribution or not.

“A greater effort must be made to eliminate the need for parents to pay voluntary contributions just to keep the school gates open. The Government needs to adequately fund schools to allow them function properly within a reasonable budget. I also believe that we need to fully eradicate the need for schools to seek out voluntary contributions from parents for classroom resources.

“Fianna Fáil has recommended that there be a significant increase in capitation funding for primary and secondary schools across the country. In addition, we are also committed to removing the need for schools to rely on voluntary contributions from parents in order to access learning materials.”