Schools will still need parents’ ‘voluntary contributions’ despite increased funding

Department of Education circular confirms 5% restoration of school capitation fees

Schools will receive 5 per cent more in capitation funding from September 2019. Photograph: iStock

Schools will receive 5 per cent more in capitation funding from September 2019. Photograph: iStock

 

Schools have warned that they will still be forced to fundraise and seek “voluntary contributions” from parents despite a small restoration increase in school capitation rates.

A Department of Education circular published on Wednesday confirms that schools will receive 5 per cent more in capitation funding from September 2019 – the first increase in a decade.

The €10 million allocation, flagged in last October’s Budget, works out at an increase of about €8.50 per student at primary and €14.80 at second level.

However, it still falls short of austerity-era cuts which saw capitation funding cut per student by about 20 per cent.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said funding per student at primary level will remains at less than a euro per pupil per day.

General secretary John Boyle said that since the capitation rates were cut in 2010, schools have had significant increases in energy and insurance costs.

“While this is the first positive change in capitation we have seen in a decade, the current grant just isn’t enough,” he said.

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

School capitation grants are intended to cover the day-to-day running costs of a school, such as heating, lighting, insurance, general upkeep and the purchase of teaching materials.

However, most schools say they are forced to resort to fundraise to ensure the basic costs can be covered.

A report last year estimated that parents’ “voluntary contributions” to schools were worth up to €45 million.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) said that while any increase in funding to schools is welcome, the “paltry” increase announced was extremely disappointing.

“In a context where Ireland is languishing at the bottom of international tables for funding to schools the ASTI is dismayed that the amount does not even reach the full 5 per cent increase promised in the budget last year,” said Kieran Christie, ASTI general secretary.

While the Government is spending record sums on education – almost €11 billion this year – Ireland is still lagging behind other countries.

The latest OECD report on education funding states that average investment in education was 5 per cent across developed countries, it fell to 3.5 per cent in Ireland.