Saturday 22 July 2017

Cut costs for parents or lose your funding, schools told

Bruton takes carrot-and-stick approach to ease uniform and book bills for families

Education Minister Richard Bruton Picture: Damien Eagers
Education Minister Richard Bruton Picture: Damien Eagers
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Schools that don't keep costs for parents to a minimum will lose out in the State funding they receive to meet their day-to-day bills.

Education Minister Richard Bruton is introducing a 'carrot-and-stick' approach in a bid to keep a lid on what parents have to pay for, which includes uniforms, books, sports gear and mobile technology devices.

The minister said: "Schools have to do everything possible to keep costs down for parents, including the use of generic items, sew-on or iron-on crests, and making sure that various elements of the uniform can be purchased in multiple stores."

The Department of Education will publish its first circular dealing with school costs this week, with immediate effect, although there will be leeway for schools that have already made arrangements for September.

Mr Bruton is making a direct link between how a school upholds the principles set out in the circular and the capitation grant it receives from the State for its running costs.

Back-to-school costs are a bone of contention for parents, many of whom sacrifice food and other household bills, or borrow, in order to cover them, according to recent surveys by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) and Barnardos.

Mr Bruton starts his round of the annual teacher conferences today, when he addresses the Irish National Teachers' Organisation congress in Belfast.

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland's conference will take place in Killarney, while the Teachers' Union of Ireland will hold its in Cork.

Irish Independent

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