Claire and David have three children aged 3, 8 and 12. David was working full-time before the pandemic in hospitality and has since been in an out of work on short contracts. Claire works part-time in the local shop.
Their eldest is going into the 1st year of secondary school and their daughter is in 2nd class. The family qualify for Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance which covers the uniform for the kids. It is a really important help to cover the costs that come up each year. This year the payment had been temporarily increased by €100, but this will not be extended next year which is disappointing as they will be having to cover uniforms on less money.
Their youngest child is in a DEIS primary school and benefits from a school book grant. This year the government will invest in free school books for all primary school children, which is an important step to making sure all children can access education on an equal footing without parents having to cut back elsewhere or borrow to cover school costs.
For their eldest child they have to find money for the book lists, administrative fees and ‘Voluntary’ contributions which they had to fund this year by going to a moneylender. They are disappointed that there wasn’t enough investment in secondary schools this year to end the practice of asking parents to cover these costs themselves, and Claire and David hope the free school books will be extended to secondary school children next year.
SVP have called for the government to increase the capitation funding for schools to make sure no school needs to ask parents to cover these costs. Without this commitment, accessing education is not truly free for families in Ireland.