School Costs must be tackled effectively by Government – Nolan
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Education and Skills Carol Nolan, has today welcomed the Minister Richard Bruton’s attention on school costs but warned that capitation must be restored to all schools as a matter of priority.
Speaking ahead of the ASTI and TUI conferences, Deputy Nolan said:
“Sinn Féin has consistently highlighted the need for back to school costs to be addressed and our alternative budget and manifesto sets out a range of proposals such as the full restoration of capitation, ending voluntary contributions, increased funding for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance and increased funding to school book schemes and school meals.
“While I welcome the attention of the Minister on this issue, I am concerned that his approach may mean that schools will lose out on critical funding.
“Capitation rates to schools were cut by 11% by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour and these must be restored to all schools as a matter of urgency.
“The Minister had an opportunity to restore the capitation rate in the last budget and did not do so and many will fear that linking capitation to school costs is simply another means to avoid increasing the capitation to some schools.
“This approach will also introduce an element of inconsistency of funding with some schools potentially receiving more state funding than others.
“I welcome the fact that the Department of Education will issue its first ever, and long overdue, circular on the issue of school costs in the coming days.
“However, there is a clear need to address the issue of school uniforms and voluntary contributions on a statutory basis in order to ensure consistency across the board for all schools.
“Despite statements to the contrary, the Parent and Student Charter Bill will not require schools to prepare and publish a school uniform policy for example nor will it seek to reduce the reliance of schools on voluntary contributions.
“Sinn Féin is currently preparing legislation on this matter and we intend to publish it at the earliest opportunity.”