Schools are increasingly dependent on voluntary contributions for their day-to-day running costs, the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals has claimed.
Every year, emails ping into the inboxes of parents asking them for money; in theory, the payments are not for day-to-day running costs - but used to fund things like extra-curricular activities.
However, NAPD Director Paul Crone said “more and more” of the money raised from voluntary contributions is being used on day-to-day spending commitments.
“It is becoming much more difficult to balance the books,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
Mr Crone said the cost of living crisis meant organising a school’s budget has become an “increasingly difficult task” and that the job fell to principals “who are not financial managers”.
He said there is “no question” that voluntary contributions are a burden for parents and this was an issue across the country.
“Even in schools that you would consider in a traditionally wealthy area, they’re not paying in the same way that people used to,” he said.
Despite this, Mr Crone said he could not envision the circumstances where voluntary contributions would be axed.
“I can’t see how it will go,” he said.
“Because schools will continue to look at trying to provide more extracurricular activities.
“They will look to try to improve the facilities in the school and improve the quality of the learning environment for students.”
He described these things as the “icing on the cake” and said, “Parents will always look to support schools who are trying to do that too.”
During the 2020-21 academic year, parents in Ireland paid an estimated €28 million in voluntary contributions.
The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 stipulates that the payment of such contributions are voluntary and cannot be used to determine a child’s enrollment in a school.
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Main image: A group of school children walking in their uniforms. Image: PjrTravel / Alamy Stock Photo