Action needed on back to school costs

25 July 2017

Labour Party Education Spokesperson, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has stated that the results of the Irish League of Credit Union’s schools costs survey reaffirms that the Government needs to do more to reduce school costs for parents.

Senator Ó Ríordáin commented:

“Results show today one in four parents will have to deny their children some basic school items this year as they continue to struggle to fund the back to school spend. The Government must do more to ensure that parents are not suffering these financial burdens in order to send their children to school.

“This survey tells us that parents are spending on average €1,209 a year on back to school costs.

“In 2013, Labour introduced an initiative to ease the cost of school uniforms. We are asking schools to engage with parents on school uniform policy and look at introducing more generic school uniforms, which are less expensive for parents – this process needs renewed attention from Minister Bruton.

“This Government must act to put an end to forced ‘voluntary’ contributions. We proposed increased funding to schools by €10 per child in 2017, increased to €20 per child for any school that agrees in writing to put an end to the practice of requesting voluntary contributions and other charges to parents.

“In the upcoming Budget, the Government must make moves to further reduce book costs for parents by doubling the funding for book rental schemes. Over recent years, funding of €5m per year was spent expanding the number of book rental schemes in primary schools. As a result, such schemes are now operating in 94% of schools, reducing book costs for parents by at least 80%. However, at second-level, only 65% of schools report having a book rental scheme, and books are much more expensive at this level. Labour has proposed a new three year scheme, at a cost of €5m each year, to give funding to second-level schools to establish book rental schemes.”

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