Government needs to properly fund primary schools

Government needs to properly fund primary schools

Parents will continue to “foot the bill” for primary education costs until the sector is properly funded, a Catholic schools association has said as a third of families admitted back to school fees have put them in debt.

Despite schools making efforts to keep costs as low as possible for parents, a survey conducted by the Irish League of Credit Unions found they are expected to shell out €1,000 with 36% of families finding themselves in debt.

“Primary Education is meant to be free,” said Seamus Mulconry, the General Secretary of Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA).

“In fact, the Constitution states explicitly that the Government shall provide for free primary education but until the Government funds primary schools properly, parents will continue to foot the bill.”

Mr Mulconry is calling for the restoration of the capitation grant to pre-austerity levels of €200. It is currently €170 per pupil.

This is meant to cover the costs of heating, electricity, insurance and more, but currently only covers half the running costs of Catholic primary schools on average.


All of the voluntary Primary School Management bodies have called for a full restoration of the capitation grant, and a phased increase to bring the capitation grant to a level which covers the running costs of school.

“The cost is not just financial; principals and boards of management are wasting time that should be spent focused on improving teaching and learning focusing on fundraising. It’s time for the Government to properly fund primary schools,” Mr Mulconry told The Irish Catholic.

In order to reduce cost, the CPSMA said many primary schools have book rental schemes, non-crested, more generic uniforms and teachers are looking at ways to reduce costs of art material and other teaching aids.

The Irish League of Credit Unions’ survey also found that more parents are borrowing money to help fund school costs, with parents of primary schoolchildren expecting a debt level of €367, an increase of €22 on last year.

A third of parents surveyed said they would have to reduce spending on family holidays, a fifth said they would sacrifice spending on household bills and 15% said they would have to cut spending on food.