Free textbooks proposed for all pupils to reduce costs
The cost of sending a child to school is increasing and moves to tackle this rise should include free textbooks for all pupils, according to the Oireachtas Education Committee.
The committee made a series of recommendations to ease the financial burden on parents and schools, in one of three reports it released yesterday, which followed a series of hearings last year.
A €20m increase in funding for the schoolbook rental scheme next year with the longer term goal of an entirely free school book scheme was among the recommendations.
The report makes a total of 25 recommendations on costs, including a call for increased funding for schools - which are awaiting the restoration of austerity-era cuts in grants to meet day-to-day running costs, such as heating bills - so that education is "free".
The committee also supports non-badged generic uniforms, including sports and gym gear, although it noted that some success had been achieved in reducing the cost of uniforms. The Department of Education issued a circular to schools two years ago urging them to ensure such costs were at a minimum.
In another report, the committee dealt with the issue of reduced timetables in schools, which recent hearings were told were being used inappropriately to tackle pupil behavioural issues.
Among its 17 recommendations in this area, the committee called for strict monitoring of the use of reduced timetables, a Department of Education audit on the application or limited and reduced timetables for Traveller children and a reduced teacher-pupil ratio for children with special serious medical needs.