Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s plans to force schools to allow parents opt for cheaper uniforms has been branded “strange” by an senior education chief.
Ferdia Kelly, General Secretary of the Joint Managerial Body (JMB) told The Irish Catholic “it seems strange that the Minister for Foreign Affairs would want to bring in regulations on school uniforms when one of his own senior party members is the Minister for Education”.
The Competition Authority has backed the Tánaiste’s demand that school uniform costs must be cut. However, Mr Kelly of the JMB has said that the decision should be made at “local school level”.
“Schools would not want to cause any further distress to parents who are already in difficulty,” Mr Kelly noted. However, “school management should enter into conversations with parents at local school level and an appropriate response should be agreed upon,” he said.
“The school management and parents know its community the best so they should be the ones to make the decision. Otherwise you are into micromanaging schools, and I mean that in a negative way,” he said.
Mr Gilmore has said: "I think this issue needs to be looked at and a sensible way must be worked out with schools to ensure there's a uniform policy that doesn't result in very expensive costs for families.”
One of the options supposedly being considered is to cut the grants for running costs to schools that insist on parents buying more expensive branded uniforms from certain shops.
According to reports in the media, meetings between Mr Gilmore's officials and the Department of Education will take place in the coming weeks to hammer out the details.
However, Mr Gilmore has not made any promises that new measures would be in place in time for next month's Budget.