Schools are struggling to meet basic costs such as heating, cleaning and insurance.
The INTO negotiated a series of financial supports for schools tied to the public health advice during the pandemic, but this short-term investment is no substitute for the long term funding restoration which is urgently needed.
Irish primary schools receive significantly less funding than second and third level institutions. Primary schools receive a capitation grant of €1 per pupil per school day to cover their running costs. Second-level schools receive almost double that amount.
The standard capitation grant per pupil has dropped from €200 in 2010 to €183 at present, in contrast to the current figure of €316 at post- primary level. This funding disparity is grossly unfair.
A 100-pupil school, which will have 4 classrooms and associated special education provision has €18,300 per annum to cover all day to day running costs of schools including heating, lighting, cleaning, insurance and general up keep in schools.
It should also be noted that a proportion of the grant is intended to be used by schools to assist with the purchase of teaching materials and resources. The low level of funding of primary schools reflects the fact that annual expenditure per student in Ireland is lower (€6,910) than the OECD average (€7,647) for pre-primary and primary education. The figure for post primary is €8,458. Education at a Glance 2020 shows per-pupil expenditure at primary level in Ireland is substantially below OECD and EU averages, in the bottom half of the OECD table.
Spend per pupil at primary level is also 11% below the EU average (€7,797).
The Department of Education’s funding to primary schools for their day-to-day running costs covers only part of their bill. Parents and local communities are subsidising primary schools to the tune of €46m a year to cover basic costs such as energy and insurance costs – not sophisticated extras to enhance learning, but rather basic necessities required to effectively deliver the curriculum.
The cost of restoring school funding to pre-recession levels is €20 million in a full year. (Source: Dáil Q&A no. 425, 16 April 2021.)