The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has welcomed the publication by the Department of Education and Skills of a report analysing the fee income of fee paying second-level schools.
Responding to the details of the report, TUI General Secretary, John MacGabhann said: “TUI has consistently called for fee-paying schools, aside from minority-faith schools, to be required to repay the full cost of the teacher allocation which it receives from the State from the fee income they collect, subject to retention of income equivalent to the capitation grant that a school of similar size in the state system would receive.
“By addressing the funding situation in this manner, this would allow the state to continue to provide a teacher allocation to the schools, thereby enabling the teachers to retain their status as public servants”, he added.
“TUI welcomes the publication of the Department of Education and Skills report which completely vindicates the TUI’s long held position”, he said.
Mr MacGabhann stated that the report shows that fee paying schools have over €81 million in discretionary income to spend on extra teachers, ancillary staff, state of the art facilities and extra-curricular activities. Crucially, this €81 million is what remains after the cost of unpaid fees and discounts, capital loan repayments, and grants and teachers foregone has been deducted from the fee income generated by these schools.
“These figures demonstrate unquestionably that it is completely unconscionable that fee paying schools continue to enjoy the unfair benefits of a double funding mechanism. Even a cursory examination of the figures involved clearly illustrates that the majority of private fee paying schools could reimburse their State funding and still have enough money to offer smaller class groups, greater subject choice and a range of other privileges – all of this without abandoning their fee-paying status or increasing their fees.
“Crucially from a public policy perspective, state money currently paid to fee paying schools could then be targeted at addressing some of the worst inequalities in the education service and reversing some of the most savage cuts,” Mr MacGabhann said.
Based on the evidence provided in this report, Mr MacGabhann called on the Minister for Education and Skills to urgently put a mechanism in place whereby fee paying schools would be required to refund the cost of their teacher allocation to the state.