In last year’s budget Minister for Education Norma Foley T.D. increased the primary school capitation grant to €258 euro per pupil to assist schools in dealing with the myriad of financial pressures facing school communities. This increase was welcomed by all of the stakeholders in Primary Education, and has been critical in assisting schools to maintain financial solvency.
However, schools’ finances remain extremely challenging due to ongoing significant increases in energy, insurance, cleaning and waste disposal costs, as well as in the cost of teaching materials and buses.
The Primary Management Bodies (An Foras Pátrúnachta, CPSMA, Church of Ireland Board of Education, Educate Together, ETBI, NABMSE and the Muslim Primary Education Board) today issued a joint statement calling for ;
· An immediate increase in the basic capitation rate to €275 per pupil;
· An increase of 10% across all other capitation grants;
· The ‘capping’ of the grant to an enrolment of 500 pupils should be abolished for larger schools;
· Schools be provided with extra funding to replace the Enhanced Cleaning Grant to ensure schools are kept clean for pupils and hygiene standards can be maintained.
· The annual funding to meet schools’ ICT costs must be restored:
· The Grant Calendar to be fixed and communicated to schools as soon as possible.
Investment by the state is now essential so that school communities are not totally dependent on voluntary contributions from already hard-pressed parents to provide basic requirements, such as heat, light, and water, in schools.
The Primary Management Bodies warned that the continuing cost of living crisis was not just an issue for individuals but for entire school communities.
Caoimhín Ó hEaghra – Ard Rúnaí An Foras Pátrúnachta
“Tá dualgas ar an stát cinntiú go bhfuil dóthain maoiniú ag scoileanna chun freastal cuí a dhéanamh ar a gcuid daltaí. Bhí bearna riamh idir an maoiniú a cuirtear ar fáil agus an costas a bhaineann le scoileanna a rith. Líon scoileanna an bearna seo tríd a gcuid tuismitheoirí. Ní raibh sé seo cothrom do thuismitheoirí agus níl sé cothrom anois. Is gá ardú suntasach sa gcaipitíocht chun gur féidir le scoileanna feidhmiú mar ba chóir”
Seamus Mulconry General Secretary CPSMA
“Schools are under severe financial pressure and need help immediately. Schools can no longer count on a bail out from the bank of Mum and Dad. Government must fulfil its constitutional obligation to provide free primary education now.”
Emer Nowlan, CEO of Educate Together:
“Last year’s increase just about enabled most schools to keep their heads above water, with many continuing to struggle to meet utility bills and other basic costs. Chronic underfunding is now at crisis level, and this is hitting disadvantaged communities and developing schools hardest - the government must build on last year’s budget to ensure all schools have the basic funds they need.”
Dr Ken Fennelly, Secretary, Church of Ireland Board of Education:
"In speaking with school leaders over recent weeks, the major concern expressed to me is the rising cost in the running of schools. We need sufficient funds to educate our children in a warm and safe environment. Funding needs to be raised to a realistic level to reflect the current cost of living."
Asiya Al Tawash, Chair MPEB
"Both schools and parents are now facing into ongoing financial difficulties. It is time to adequately resource the education all our children need and deserve.”
Eileen O'Rourke General Secretary NABMSE
Cost of Staff Training:
"Special schools, and, increasingly, schools with special classes face a substantial extra financial burden every year due to the cost of the annual training they must provide for all school staff. In special schools, SNA and Bus Escort teams can frequently number over 100 people to be trained along with all other school personnel. This training is provided by external private companies and adds up to a cost of thousands of euros which schools must pay out of their annual budget. These schools also purchase protective equipment and wearables for staff, often imported from the UK, which also presents another substantial financial challenge. Schools cannot continue to carry this extra financial burden without the capitation and budget increases outlined in this document."
Paddy Lavelle ETBI
"With many schools resorting to parent contributions to fund the basics of running a school, the disparity between the education experiences of children from different socio-economic backgrounds is growing even further. An increase in the state funding available to schools is essential to stop this in its tracks.“