FINE Gael resisted a last-minute attempt by Labour to cut state subsidies for private schools in today's Budget.
Sources said Labour again pushed for a reduction in funding to fee-paying schools – a move that would have effectively increased the pupil-teacher ratio.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has hit private schools in the last two Budgets, and the issue has bubbled under during the lifetime of the Coalition, causing tensions between Fine Gael and Labour TDs.
The Fine Gael rebuff comes after private schools and parents launched an intensive campaign to protect the subsidy. "The main sticking points were health and fee-paying schools," a minister said of the cabinet meeting, while adding that the private school funding was now "ok".
"Labour conceded that the saving was too small to be worth all the hassle."
The source also said the cut would have saved relatively little money, possibly just a couple of million.
An analysis by the Department of Education this year showed that, on average, a fee-paying school has an extra €1.5m a year to spend on its pupils over and above a similar-sized school in the free education scheme.
The report gave Mr Quinn scope to further increase the pupil-teacher ratio in private schools from the current 23:1 to 28:1.