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School bonus proposed

Wednesday, 31st July, 2019 4:26pm

A €140 ‘Back to School Bonus’ has been called for in a bid to help tackle crippling back to school costs.

The proposal was contained in a new policy document ‘Tackling Back to school Costs’, published by Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó'Laoghaire TD and Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson John Brady TD.

The document also proposes legislative measures to ensure schools make uniforms affordable by use of generic uniforms, to deliver a scheme which makes school books free for all children, rolled out over a number of budgets, to end school reliance on so-called voluntary contributions by increasing core capitation funding to schools and to reform and increase funding for the school transport scheme so that it is more flexible and affordable for parents.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire said: “Every summer parents are put to the pin of their collar trying to organise uniforms, shoes, books, ‘voluntary contributions’, and much more.

“More than any other time of year, it becomes abundantly clear that free primary and secondary education in this state is a myth. Parents have to fork out on average €949 to get their children ready for primary school and €1,399 to send them to secondary school.

“As a result, many children miss out on extracurricular activities or school trips which is a deeply unfair position to put parents in. The vast majority of parents get no assistance with back to school costs.

“These are just two examples of the overwhelming number of reasons to propose a Back to School Bonus of €140. This would be a double payment of Child Benefit which would be paid to every family for each child at the start of July.”

The Cork TD continued: “We would tackle the increasing use of voluntary contributions by properly funding schools; it is absurd that schools have to ask for voluntary contributions and fundraise for items as basic and fundamental as heat and light. Sinn Féin would eliminate these so-called voluntary contributions by restoring capitation grants to pre-recession levels.

“We also would legislate to ensure that schools have to work towards affordable uniforms and to increase funding to the School Books Scheme to deliver free school books for all school children.”

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