Minister Richard Bruton has announced new measures to help bring down the cost of education in Ireland.
Speaking at the I.N.T.O. Conference in Belfast, the Minister announced that he will soon publish a circular to be adopted by schools to reduce, among other things, the cost of school uniforms.
The announcement is part of a suite of measures taken by Minister Bruton who said his 'ambition is to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade'.
The Minister will also introduce a requirement for every school to develop a Parent and Student Charter, which will ensure that the interaction between students, parents and schools, is always done in an open and progressive way.
Following the implementation of the circular, school authorities will be required to adopt the following principles of cost-effective practice which will put a greater emphasis on reducing the cost of school uniforms and other costs:
- All elements of a school uniform should be purchasable from various stores
- Only “iron on” or “sew on” crests should be used
- Wherever possible, generic rather than branded items should be specified (e.g. uniform, clothing, IT tablets, sports equipment etc.)
- Provide parents with a list of all required items and indicate the likely costs of these required items at best value stores
- Provide a book rental scheme
- Ban the use of workbooks which cannot be reused
- Where an exclusive supply arrangement applies, it should be tendered for regularly.
- The Board of Management in each school will have to review the cost of items which they require parents to purchase and to make this information available to the school community.
Minister Bruton also made a direct link between how a school implements these recommendations and the capitation grant it receives from the State.
Every school receives a grant from the Department of Education based on the number of pupils in the school and the circular will contain a warning that only schools that have introduced these cost effective principles 'will receive a premium capitation payment'.
"To deliver on my ambition to be the best we have to improve information and complaint procedures for parents and students, particularly in relation to costs. The measures I am announcing today will give parents a strong voice in ensuring costs are always kept to a minimum", he added.