SF aims to ban school contributions

Voluntary contributions will be banned under new legislation put forward by a local TD.

The practice sees schools ask parents to pay a contribution towards heating, electricity and other costs.

The contributions can run into the hundreds of euro.

However, the charges have been criticised with charity Barnardos claiming they place “financial pressure” on parents.

A survey carried out by the group saw 50% of respondents say they worry about the cost of their children returning to school.

A new bill, brought before the Dáil by Sinn Féin TDs Matt Carthy and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, aims to give the Education Minister the power to ban the practice of voluntary contributions.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Carthy said many parents have been “floored” by letters from schools asking for the contributions.

“This is the time of year when many families, particularly those with school going children, find themselves under financial stress,” he said. “It’s already a time when many are planning for the Christmas time ahead.”

Sinn Féin says schools have been “chronically underfunded”, with Deputy Carthy saying some schools could not provide hot water for students to wash their hands during the pandemic.

He also said the practice of excluding a student from certain activities as they had not paid the fee would be banned under the legislation.

The bill came before the Dáil last week and has now moved on to second reading after the Government said it would not oppose it.