My Department provides a book grant to all recognised primary and post primary schools within the Free Education Scheme in order to provide assistance for books including Book Rental Schemes. Under this scheme, the Department provided funding of €17.2 million in 2021 to all of these schools.
School book rental schemes have an important role to play in reducing the cost of school books for parents and in order to support the establishment of book rental schemes my Department provided €15.7 million seed capital in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to primary schools. Circa. 96% of primary schools and 69% of post-primary schools operate a book rental scheme.
It is a matter for the Board of Management of each individual school to decide on its own policy in relation to the use of book grant funding in the school but they are expected to adopt a cost-conscious approach to the selection of books for use in their classes. The current arrangement relies on the local knowledge of the school in order to ensure a fair allocation of funds to those most in need.
Additional funding of €1million provided under Budget 2020 was allocated to 102 Primary DEIS schools for a new pilot programme for the 2020/21 school year. This funding continued this for the 2021/22 school year.
The aim of this pilot is to provide free school books for students in the schools involved, and to support these schools in eliminating the cost of school books for parents. It will continue to run for the 2021/22 school year and it’s effectiveness and impact will be monitored and evaluated before any decision is made as regards its possible extension or continuation. It is my intention to complete this process as soon as possible. Under Circular 46/2013, DEIS schools receive a book grant of €21 per student. This pilot provided an additional €64 per student to increase the overall book grant rate to €85 per student enrolled in the school.