New measures announced to reduce school costs for parents

The announcement comes as this year's teachers' conferences get underway

New measures announced to reduce school costs for parents

Richard Bruton. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

New measures have been announced to reduce the cost for parents of sending children to school.

Rules being introduced include banning the use of workbooks which cannot be reused; using generic uniforms; and fully costed lists for items parents are required to buy.

The new rules also state that only 'iron on' or 'sew on' crests should be used, and any exclusive supply arrangements 'should be tendered for regularly'.

Announcing the moves, the Education Minister Richard Bruton says schools should also consult with parents regularly on school costs and ways to reduce them.

The new rules will come into force once a circular is published in the coming days, with schools able to implement them from September.

Legislation is also being drafted that will require schools to publish a parent and student charter. Charters will have to include information such as a financial statement with details on how voluntary contributions are used.

Minister Bruton said: “My ambition is to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade.

“To deliver on my ambition to be the best we have to improve information and complaint procedures for parents and students, particularly in relation to costs. The measures I am announcing today will give parents a strong voice in ensuring costs are always kept to a minimum."

However, Barnardos' Fergus Finlay says the measures do not go far enough.

"These are very, very small steps," he argued. "I think it's really disappointing that the Minister has chosen not to go that little bit further.

"It would cost the Government very little money to do away entirely with the cost of school books for parents, and the cost of school transport."

Meanwhile, Minister Bruton is set to hear calls for equal pay for teachers at unions' conferences this week.

The INTO, ASTI and TUI are all holding their annual meetings, where pay is topping agendas.

The TUI - which represents second and third level teachers - says a lack of full-time work means many of its members are struggling to make ends meet.