Media reporting on school funding criticised

False impression given that religious schools better funded

A representative of Catholic secondary schools has accused the media of giving a false impression that religious schools are better funded, when in fact they receive significantly less State funding than other sector schools.

Following media coverage of the release of the ESRI Report on Governance and Funding in Voluntary Secondary Schools last week, the Joint Managerial Body (JMB), which represents the management of almost 400 voluntary secondary schools – many of them Catholic schools – said there is a perception that voluntary schools are better funded when in reality they are forced to ask parents to pay towards maintaining the schools because of a lack of State funding. 

“There is inequality in funding,” said Ferdia Kelly, General Secretary of the JMB. “But looking at media reports last week, and listening to Morning Ireland I would have come away with the conclusion that voluntary secondary schools are much better funded than schools in other sectors.”


On Morning Ireland last Wednesday, RTÉ’s Education Correspondent Emma O’Kelly said there is a “feeling” among religious-run schools that “they are not as well-funded as schools in other sectors” and that the report concluded that “the funding mechanisms are so complex and different it is impossible to compare like with like”.

The ESRI report, which was commissioned by some Catholic schools trusts, stated that “It is clear that voluntary secondary schools receive a significantly lower proportion of funding from the State and, as a result, are more reliant on voluntary contributions from parents and on general fundraising.”

Mr Kelly said there was “a focus” in the media “on the fact that the voluntary sector is better at taking in voluntary contributions without noting the fact that the only reason is that voluntary schools have to survive on two thirds funding from State and one third locally raised, whereas other sectors are 90% or 93% State funded”.