Wednesday, 11 May 2022
Department of Education and Skills
178. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to increase the standard capitation rate for pupils in primary schools by 20%, from 1 September 2023 to 31 December 2023 and for the period 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2024. [23783/22]
My Department provides funding to recognised Primary and Post-Primary schools in the free education scheme by way of per capita grants. The two main grants are the Capitation grant to cater for day to day running costs such as heating, lighting, cleaning, insurance, general up-keep etc. and the Ancillary/School Services Support Fund (SSSF) to cater for the cost of employing ancillary services staff. Schools also receive a range of other grants including Book Grants, Programme grants etc.
I understand the need for improved capitation funding and I am pleased that budget 2020 was able to provide for a further 2.5% increase in standard capitation funding for primary schools that applied from the start of the 2020/21 school year. This builds on the 5% increase in capitation announced in budget 2019.
All schools have received the benefit of the capitation increases awarded to date. It is my intention to seek funding for further capitation increases in future budgets.
Annual funding would need to be increased by circa €40m to increase the capitation grant by 20%. This would cost €20m at primary and €20m at post-primary. The estimated cost for the period 1stSeptember to 31stDecember, 2023 would be €6.9m at primary and €6.7m at post-primary.
179. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide a copy of the analysis undertaken by her Department into the return of annual accounts provided by the chairperson and boards of management of primary and special schools to the financial support services unit for the 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years; the breakdown of costs by school type and size; and the figures provided for school generated income, other income, voluntary contributions, donations and all restricted and non-restricted fundraising. [23784/22]
As the Deputy may be aware, Section 18 of the Education Act 1998 requires Boards of Management to keep all proper and usual accounts and records of all monies received by it or expenditure of such monies incurred by it. Boards are also required to make school accounts available for inspection by me and by parents of students in the school.
While schools in the Voluntary Secondary Sector have been submitting accounts to the Financial Services Support Unit (FSSU) for a number of years, those at Primary level submitted accounts to the FSSU for the first time in 2020 for the 2018/19 school year. Schools in the Community and Comprehensive Sector submitted accounts to the FSSU for the first time in 2021 for the 2019/20 school year.
The expansion of the FSSU to schools in the Primary, Community and Comprehensive Sectors commenced on a phased basis in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Therefore, the main focus of the FSSU in recent years has been to provide advice and support to these schools in financial governance and strengthen the existing arrangements including standardising arrangements for compliance with accounting requirements under Section 18 of the Education Act 1998.
School Accounts for the 2020/21 school year are being submitted to the FSSU currently. Accounts for the 2021/22 school year will not be submitted to the FSSU until February 2023.
The return of school accounts for the 2019/20 school year shows that over 99% of Primary schools and all Voluntary Secondary, Community and Comprehensive schools submitted accounts to the FSSU.
The next phase will include expansion of the FSSU role which will include providing my Department with detailed analysis of the information included in school accounts in so far as it relates to grant funding to schools from monies provided by the Oireachtas for the purposes of carrying on that school or centre for education as provided for under Section 18(2) of the Education Act 1998. This will include analysis of costs by school type and size.
180. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the breakdown of school expenditure by school size at primary level and the type of expenditure for the 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years. [23785/22]
The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available within in my Department. When information has been collated by my officials, I will organise for this information to be sent directly to the Deputy.
181. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of a 20% increase in the ancillary services grant for primary and special schools to cover the costs from 1 September 2023 to 31 December 2023 and for the period 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2024. [23786/22]
My Department provides funding to recognised Primary and Post-Primary schools in the free education scheme by way of per capita grants. The two main grants are the Capitation grant to cater for day to day running costs such as heating, lighting, cleaning, insurance, general up-keep etc. and the Ancillary/School Services Support Fund (SSSF) to cater for the cost of employing ancillary services staff.
Schools are permitted to regard the capitation and ancillary/SSSF grants as a combined grant. It is a matter for each individual school to decide how best to apply the grant funding to suit its particular needs.
The current standard rate of Ancillary Grant is €173.00 per pupil.
The estimated full year cost in 2024 of increasing the ancillary grant by 20% per pupil in Primary and Special schools is circa €18.7m. The estimated cost for the period 1stSeptember to 31stDecember, 2023 would be €6.4m.
The Ancillary Services grant was increased by €26 from 2016 to 2021, in order to enable primary schools to implement the arbitration salary increase for grant funded school secretaries and caretakers and to also implement the restoration of salary for cleaners arising from the unwinding of FEMPI legislation.