School heads still forced to ask parents for voluntary contributions

More than half of primary school principals say they are still forced to ask parents for voluntary contributions, and 40% of them are running financial deficits.

Although the amount sought from parents may be falling, 55% of school leaders told an Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) survey they still feel obliged to request a voluntary contribution from parents. 

In most cases, the money raised is used to pay for energy, heating or other utilities, and other some necessities for schools.

The IPPN survey found that just 12% of primary schools are considered by their managers to be in a sound financial position.

Department of Education rules mean schools are not allowed to make contributions to running costs compulsory, and most allow parents to opt out if they are unable to pay the voluntary contribution.

The funding that schools receive from the department remains 15% lower than it was a decade ago, down from €200 to €170 for each pupil. 

The money was not increased in Budget 2018 last October as Education Minister Richard Bruton prioritised the hiring of extra teachers and other measures across his €9bn annual spend.

IPPN president, David Ruddy, will call on the minister at the network’s conference today to begin restoring the capitation grants to and beyond previous amounts paid, as the cuts are forcing more schools to seek financial support from parents.

“Many schools are breaking, if not already broke, and principals are spending valuable time fundraising for essentials instead of being allowed focus on their primary role of leading high-quality learning in their school,” he said.


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