Primary schools forced to fundraise to cover basic costs, says teachers' union

INTO general secretary John Boyle

Primary schools across the country are being forced to resort to fundraising to ensure basic costs can be covered, the primary teachers’ union has warned.

The current capitation grant, intended to cover the costs of heating, lighting, upkeep, teaching materials and insurance for schools falls short for many, according to the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO).

In January, the capitation rate was set by the department at €170 per mainstream pupil; from September, this will equal €179.

“Since 2010, capitation has been cut from €200 per pupil,” said INTO general secretary John Boyle.

“Since then, we have had significant increases in energy and insurance costs and, while this is the first positive change in capitation we have seen in a decade, the current grant just isn’t enough.”

The government must restore funding to the pre-2010 levels at a minimum, so schools can cover their basic needs.

“It is unacceptable that primary level receives less funding per pupil than secondary."

On Tuesday, the Department of Education issued the revised per-capita rates applicable to capitation grant funding to primary schools from September 1.

Enhanced capitation rates are also available for pupils attending special schools and special classes attached to mainstream schools to assist with extra costs.

However, according to the INTO, the partial restoration of the previous grant will still not meet the funding requirements of many schools.

The union, which represents more than 35,000 primary teachers in Ireland, has reiterated its call for per-pupil investment in primary schools to rise in line with other developed countries.

Reducing class size and supporting school leadership are also among the top funding priorities the INTO is calling for in Budget 2020.

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