School is back in session.


But before the bell rang in a new school year, the National Parents Council Primary carried out a survey in relation to the voluntary contribution paid to schools.


It found that three-quarters of parents were asked for the contribution, and in some schools this can be upwards of €200 a year.


Additionally, the survey found that 54 percent of parents feel pressurised to pay it.



This is despite the Department of Education's guidelines saying any financial donations should be voluntary.


The survey included almost 1,800 parents and found that 65 percent of parents were informed on how the money was spent.


Parents listed that school equipment, art supplies and photocopying was funded by their contribution.


However, schools also used the money to pay bills such as heating and electricity, as well as book rental, swimming lessons and security, according to the participating parents. 



Furthermore, on top of the contribution, parents were asked to dish out more money for other expenses during the year.


This included school heating and electricity bill and minor repairs.


CEO of the National Parents Council Primary, Aine Lynch says this type of financial pressure can strain the relationship between parents and schools.


"We know from research that it's really important that parents engage in their children's learning and engage with the school around their children's learning." 


"If the first conversation with the parent in the school is around ability to pay money and a parent can't pay it then how does that parent go in the next week to talk about their children's learning in maths or English or anything else," she said.



The National Parents Council Primary presented the survey to an Oireachtas Education Committee.


The two-day meeting was aimed at discovering the pressures on parents and schools as the new school year starts.