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Quinn orders probe of €100m taxpayer funding for private schools

The extent of State payments to fee-charging schools will be reviewed, the Department of Education has confirmed.

Education Minister Ruairí Quinn
Education Minister Ruairí Quinn
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

EDUCATION MINISTER RUAIRÍ Quinn has ordered a review of the State funding for fee-paying schools, which currently stands at around €100million a year, officials have confirmed.

The investigation will focus on the level of taxpayer funding the schools require, based on their income from tuition fees.

The Irish Times reports today that private schools overall earn an annual €120million from parents’ fees, with some taking in more than €7million a year.

The Department of Education has confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the “potential extent and nature of Exchequer investment” in fee-paying schools will be under review. It emerged this year that the State paid more than €105million towards teachers’ salaries in fee-charging schools in 2010.

In a statement, a spokesperson said the audit will examine schools’ income from parents against the State funding they would receive if they did not charge fees, to assess the “discretionary income” available to them. The Department will then enter into dialogue with the schools concerned.

Earlier this year, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland called on the Government to cease paying teacher salaries in fee-paying schools, calling it a “funding of privilege”.

Minister Quinn also said in May that the capital funding for such schools – State money used to fund new buildings and infrastructure – would have to be reviewed.

More: Teachers’ union calls for State to stop funding private schools>

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Michael Freeman

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