IRELAND’S 55 fee-paying, State-aided secondary schools have an additional €81.3 million available to them to spend on extra teachers, facilities and extracurricular activities, a new report has shown.
The Department of Education analysed the income of fee-paying schools across the country to better inform policy decisions about the nature and extent of exchequer funding provided to such institutions.
The research found that the discretionary income works out at an average of €1.48 million for each of the schools, approximately €3,177 per student. However, there are discrepancies depending on fee charged and enrolment numbers with actual discretionary income ranging from €112,000 for one relatively small school to €4.7 million for a large school.
The figures were arrived at after allowance is made for discounts on fees, unpaid fees, capital loan repayments and the estimate of foregone recurrent grants, including teacher salaries.
Fees charged by the 55 schools ranged from €2,550 to €10,065.
The Department said the funding allows for the private recruitment of additional subject teachers and extra ancillary staff or investment in capital improvements and extracurricular activities. The State pays teachers in both fee-paying and non-fee-paying institutions. The extra staff are used in fee-paying institutions to provide extra subjects or reduce the teacher-pupil ratio.
Last year there were 25,589 students in fee-charging schools. That is 7.1 per cent of total enrolment in Ireland. On the other side, there were 333,458 enrolled in the ‘Free Scheme’. Of those schools, 21 continue to provide a boarding option.
Some interesting figures from the report:
- The nine schools that charge in excess of €6,000 per annum have on average €2.2 million in discretionary income ranging from €1.08 million to €4.7 million.
- There are seven schools charging a fee between €2500 and €3000. These have an average discretionary income of €696,000.
- The number of schools permitted to charge fees represents 7.6 per cent of the 723 post primary level schools.
The analysis looked at a scenario where the State could cease its funding for fee-paying schools. In such a development, schools would likely have to replace publicly-funded teachers with teachers employed with the discretionary income. This would reduce the funds available to the schools for other purposes by about €20 million, leaving them with €61.7 million.
On the issue of Protestant fee-paying schools, the report examined the financial impact on such institutions but said it did not provide evidence that the group should be exempted from any measure being applied.
Some recent contributions have called for special consideration for 20 Protestant schools.