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School Charges and Voluntary Contributions

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, Section 64 prohibits schools from charging 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.

The introduction of the free schoolbook grants for primary schools and junior cycle pupils of post primary schools saw the removal of book rental schemes charges in those schools.

Voluntary contributions may be sought from parents, provided it is made clear to parents that there is no compulsion to pay and that a child’s place in the school or continued enrolment is not dependant on a willingness to make a contribution. A school cannot request mandatory fees or payments from existing pupils or from those seeking admission to the school.

School may however continue to request certain charges from pupils but there must be full transparency around the request being made.

The following charges may be legitimately requested from pupils:

  • Payment for photocopied material or arts & crafts materials provided by the school where the charge is reasonable and simply reflects the true costs concerned;
  • Charges for meals and refreshments provided pupils are not forced to purchase same and can bring their own refreshments to school (e.g. lunchbox); or
  • Services and activities provided by the school in excess of that included in the general

school programme, provided the pupil can elect to avail of such services (e.g. supervised

after-school study, school tours, or visits to theatres or sporting events).

While the above is not exhaustive, the key requirement is that a school does not operate a charge, in whatever form, that is in effect a mandatory fee and contrary to the principle of not charging fees that distinguishes recognised schools in the Free Education Scheme from those recognised schools that have elected to charge fees.