How Wilson's Hospital made the big switch
THE principal of a Protestant school that stopped charging fees last year said other Church of Ireland institutions have sought his advice about changing to the free education scheme.
Wilson's Hospital School (pictured right) principal Adrian Oughtan stopped charging day students tuition fees last year and has seen an increase in pupils since he made the move.
Mr Oughtan said he made the transition by increasing the pupil-teacher ratio over the course of 20 years, eventually enabling him to remove privately paid teachers from the college in Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath.
He said: "This didn't happen overnight, it was accumulation of some years of planning. We didn't wake up one morning and say let's join the free scheme." He added: "The move was made because the school's governors were anxious that the school continue to be available for those who it was originally intended, namely the Church of Ireland community."
The school now receives per capita funding for all students, a range of state educational grants and parents can avail of the school book lending scheme. The principal said the success of the changeover had been noted by other Protestant schools that are struggling to fill their classrooms in recent years.
He said: "We have told other schools of what we have done so obviously they are interested in that, but how far their interest goes I can't say.
"I don't know if there's a move on but I know what we did is certainly of interest to other schools."