My Department does not hold records regarding payments collected from parents including voluntary contributions received by schools. However, my Department’s position in relation to voluntary contributions is that they are permissible provided it is made very 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.
A school may, however, seek payment to cover the cost of photocopying or other such learning materials where the amount sought by the school is consistent with the costs involved and the level of materials provided. It is also permissible for a school to seek payments in respect of extra-curricular activities provided such activities are not obligatory and individual pupils can choose whether or not to participate.
The Education (Admission to Schools) Act, 2018 which was signed into law by the President on 18 July 2018, prohibits the charging of fees or seeking payment or contributions for an application for admission to a school or for the enrolment or continued enrolment of a student in a school.
I intend to shortly publish the Student and Parent Charter Bill. One of the key concepts in the Bill is the need for schools to provide information to parents and students. Each school will be required to prepare, publish and implement a Student and Parent Charter in accordance with national guidelines to be made by the Minister. The charter guidelines will specify the content of charters, including the information to be provided to students and parents relating to the monies that the school receives (including voluntary contributions made by parents) and the expenditure of those monies.