Quaker school to stop day fees as parents struggle
THE only Quaker school in the country is entering the Free Education scheme in September.
Newtown School, Waterford is the latest in the private sector to abandon its fee-paying status – which means there will be no fees payable for standard tuition, between 9am and 4pm.
However, Newtown encourages day students to stay on after classes, and fees for optional care and extra-curricular activities after 4pm will be €2,600 from September.
Like many other fee-charging schools that have seen families struggle to pay fees since the financial crash in 2008, Newtown was forced to consider its options.
The more challenging economic situation for families is blamed for a fall in enrolments in many well-known schools among the 55 in the fee-paying sector.
As well as difficulties faced by parents in paying fees, the schools have also suffered a drop in state support.
Gormanston College in Co Meath has announced it will move into the Free Education scheme in September, while Kilkenny College transferred last year.
While moving out of the private sector means a loss of income from parents, schools in the Free Education scheme enjoy benefits such as Department of Education building grants and more state-paid teachers. Newtown will continue to be a co-educational school under the patronage of the Religious Society of Friends educating for life in the Quaker tradition
Its 283-pupils are evenly split between boarders and day students, known as day-boarders, with provision of care and activities beyond 4pm.
Day boarding includes the cost of all school-based extra-curricular activities including sport, music and drama, together with supervised study time until up to 9.30 pm and on Saturday morning.
Newtown has now set new, lower rates to take effect from September, with boarders paying just under €300 for a seven-day week and day boarding costing just over €80 per week.
While seven-day boarding fees were €13,204 in the current year, they will fall to €9,750 for 2014-15 while the annual rate for day boarders will be €2,600, compared with €6,234 last year.
Students will also be required to pay an administration charge of €200 to cover such items as photocopying, personal accident insurance, and locker provision.
School Principal Keith Lemon said "more and more parents have been struggling to pay the fees" and the move "opens the school to more students while reducing the amount of money it costs for them to be educated here".