Minister’s Attempts to Reduce School Costs Don’t Go Far Enough
Barnardos welcomes Minister Bruton’s announcement that he is to issue a circular to be adopted by schools to reduce the costs associated with sending children to school, particularly reducing uniform costs and stamping out use of workbooks. However, these efforts do not go far enough.
June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos, said, “Barnardos has long campaigned to reduce the significant financial burden placed on parents to fund school books, uniforms, and all the other costs associated with sending a child to school. Today’s announcement that Minister Bruton is to issue a circular to schools to be mindful of costs on parents is completely insufficient and lacks any vision or recognition by the State that schools are totally underfunded. Barnardos has recommended to this Minister and others that it would cost just €103.2m to guarantee a free primary education for all children in Ireland. This is only an extra cost-per-pupil of just €185. This investment would fulfil the Government’s Constitutional obligation to provide genuinely free primary education for all children. It would cover all school books, school transport fees, classroom resources fees, eliminate voluntary contribution fees and would restore the capitation grants to 2010 levels. If we are truly determined not to allow any child’s chance in life to be decided at birth by the income levels of their parents, we need Government investment and nothing less.”
“While we welcome this as a small positive step and may lead to more schools taking measures to reduce the burden on parents, it fails to recognise the need for additional State investment. We would urge the Minister to make the investments that are needed to truly ensure that schools can run appropriately and all pupils have what they need to learn without sending their parents into debt.”