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Parents don't know how voluntary contributions are used

Posted by Sally OBrien, on 27/02/2015. Parents don't know how voluntary contributions are usedTags: Parenting Education And Politics

The government has rejected calls by Sinn Féin to make schools provide information to parents on how they spend voluntary contributions.

Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson, Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the government to give parents access to information on how the money that is raised by parents’ voluntary contributions are being spent within the school.

Voluntary contributions, usually around €100-200 per school year, are donated by parents at the request of the school. The funds raised usually go towards the school's general upkeep such as general maintenance. Although voluntary, Deputy O’Brien comments that parents feel these donations are mandatory, he told a subcommittee on Education and Skills yesterday:

“Parents are finding it extremely hard to deal with voluntary contributions and we all know that they are not really voluntary at all, with students being denied access to lockers and extra-curricular activities until they are paid in some cases.

“There is an onus on parents to pay them and there are schools with hundreds of students who are paying hundreds of euro in voluntary contributions and parents have no idea what the money is being used for.

“The Department of Education don’t even have a record of how much schools are asking parents to pay.

He continued,

“Parents are under too much pressure in order to pay these and realistically do not have an option to not pay them when they can’t afford to, and we would like to see that addressed.”

According to a report by Nicky Ryan in The, Junior Minister Damien English, agreed with Deputy O’Brien’s comments on a need for transparency, but said "the amendments proposed could result in a massive workload for staff if a centralised administration system was used."

The Dept of Education responded, and according to The

“A spokesperson for the Department of Education said that non-fee-charging schools are not permitted to request payment, but voluntary contributions are permissible “provided it is made absolutely clear to parents that there is no question of compulsion to pay and that, in making a contribution, they are doing so of their own volition”.


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