Newstalk School Survey: Two-thirds of parents expected to pay voluntary contribution

The most common amount being sought by schools was between €50 and €100, a new survey has found
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.40 29 Aug 2023

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Newstalk School Survey: Two-th...

Newstalk School Survey: Two-thirds of parents expected to pay voluntary contribution

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.40 29 Aug 2023

Share this article

Two-thirds of parents are expected to pay a voluntary contribution to their children's school, a new Newstalk survey finds.

The latest in a series of polls carried out by Amárach Research for Newstalk examines all things Back to School from voluntary contributions to transport and sex education.

The survey finds that the most common voluntary contribution being sought from parents is between €50 and €100.


Just over 20% of parents say they are expected to pay between €100 and €150, 19% are being asked to pay less than €50 and 18% of parents are facing contributions of €150 and over.

Listener David told Lunchtime Live parents should be getting a breakdown of where the money goes.

"If they were able to publish, almost like a budget, and say, 'Of your €100 we spent €25 on photocopying, €25 on maintenance'.

"Even if it came down to where [the school said], 'We bought tea and coffee for the teachers for the breakroom during the year' and you had a detailed analysis of the whole thing.

"A school is part of a community, and the community may be able to help in ways other than just handing in cheques or money.

"If a school published their wish list, I think it would be far easier.

"It's not voluntary - it's voluntary with a gun to your head."

Free books scheme

Ross, who lives in south Dublin, said he believes the free books scheme should be means-tested.

"We've just been granted with the free books scheme, we're not buying books this year," he said.

"So, that money could have been distributed better - we've no problem buying the books.

"I'm sure there's some kids in the school who can't afford basic things like that.

"The schoolbook shop has just closed - two of them, I think have just closed quite close to us - so there's a knock-on from that."

'Open communication'

Tracey said her school uses a different system.

"They don't have a voluntary contribution, but they do have a €20 charge for art supplies, photocopying and pens and all of that for the children," she said.

"They fundraise then throughout the year for the iPads and anything else they need for the school and maintenance.

"Last year they had an issue with the mains supply, and they got a grant for that to help fix that.

"So, there is other means of getting money for the schools to do things as well."

Tracey said she doesn't feel under pressure to pay.

"There's a very good, open communication: if you can't afford something, you can say it to them," she said.

"They're very good and open, and you pay off in small amounts.

"If I said to them, 'I can't afford that €20 this week, can I pay another week?', there is no pressure."

'Voluntary in name, not in nature'

Jen Hogan, Irish Times columnist and parent, said people are put under pressure to pay.

"I think really there needs to be more emphasis on the word 'voluntary' - I think a lot of parents don't feel it's voluntary," she said.

"I asked parents about the pressure they were feeling to pay the voluntary contribution... they really felt a pressure to pay it.

"So, the voluntary aspect was lost - they said voluntary in name, not voluntary in nature.

"The really notable thing for me this morning was the number of parents who got in touch who were actually quite upset about it - they're really struggling.

"They feel they have to pay this voluntary contribution, but they don't know where the money's going to come from," she added.

Listen back here:

If you would like have your opinion heard and take part in a Newstalk Amarach poll, visit for more information

Main image: File photo of a primary school teacher marking work in a classroom. Picture by: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

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