Measures to Tackle School Costs Announced

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Measures to Tackle School Costs Announced

Speaking to the Today with Sean O'Rourke programme on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning, Minister Bruton said that education has to respond to the changing expectations of parents and children.

"It would cost the Government very little money to do away entirely with the cost of schoolbooks for parents and the cost of school transport, and indeed, with the voluntary contribution that parents are required to make".

Schools will also be required to provide book rental schemes for students and to ensure that "where possible" parents can purchase generic as opposed to branded school items, such as computer tablets and sports equipment.

The Department of Education has issued a statement saying a forthcoming circular to schools will require them to ensure that school uniforms can be bought from a variety of sources, by using for instance iron-on or sew-on school crests.

Workbooks that can only be used once will also be banned.

Reacting to the news, the president of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland urged Mr Bruton to address capitation grants, rather than threatening schools with cuts, if they fail to reduce the cost of items for parents.

Barnardos put back-to-school costs last year at 340 euro for a child going into senior infants, to 395 euro for fourth class and 775 euro for first years.

EDUCATION MINISTER RICHARD Bruton has announced a range of measures to cut the cost of schooling for parents.

June Tinsley, the charity's head of advocacy, said Mr Bruton's efforts were completely insufficient and lacked any vision or recognition that schools are totally underfunded.

Speaking from Belfast, she said the government can not continue to skimp on education.

Significantly, schools who introduce the new cost-saving measures will receive a "premium capitation payment" when these payments are restored over the coming years.

"If we are truly determined not to allow any child's chance in life to be decided at birth by the income levels of their parents, we need Government investment and nothing less". Schools will also have to consult with parents and students regularly, and publish and operate a Parent and Student Charter.

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