Restoration of Capitation Grant Campaign Report
As you are aware, CPSMA and the other primary education management bodies have been campaigning over the last number of months, seeking the restoration of the capitation grant to pre-financial crisis levels, i.e. €200 per pupil. The timing of the campaign was to secure political attention to the issue and thereby make it a priority for Budget 2019 as most of the larger budgetary decisions are taken during this part of the political calendar.
CPSMA has contribution to the campaign in a number of ways. In April, CPSMA General Secretary, Seamus Mulconry, met with a group of principals from the Dublin area, providing guidance on the ‘how-to’ of lobbying TDs and information on the issue. This ‘ground-up’ element to the campaign was critical as primary school communities are influential, with principals in particular being understood by politicians as potentially strong influencers in their communities.
CPSMA commissioned a Grant Thornton Report on primary school finances. This found that the State was meeting only 53% of the running costs of a school. Over €46 million per year is being contributed by parents or through other fund-raising initiatives. This report received significant media coverage, both in broadcast (RTÉ, Newstalk) and print (Irish Independent, Irish Times, Irish Examiner) media. The campaign also received significant coverage in local news media, the latter particularly focused on local TDs’ support for the campaign (e.g. see here and here).
In May, CPSMA, along with all of the other management bodies, created and promoted a short video to support the campaign:
The video was widely shared on social media, gaining over 120k views. Several TDs and Senators referenced the video and commented on the contents.
The work by principals and chairpersons of primary schools began to bear fruit in May, with TDs and Senators from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Green Party and the Labour Party entering the debate and supporting increased funding for schools. Most of the debate in the beginning came from the Dublin area but laterspread out ot the rest of the State.
The matter has been raised in the Dáil, including a Topical Issue debate and several written Parliamentary Questions from TDs. It has also been raised in the Seanad. There has been significant engagement in the debate by politicians from the entire political spectrum. This would not have happened without the engagement of politicians by schools in their area.
The Leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin T.D., raised the issue of capitation grant funding for primary schools during Leaders’ Questions in June of this year.
During the last week in August, Seamus Mulconry again appeared in front of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills, explaining the urgent need for increased funding for primary schools. Extracts from his contributions are below.
An example of this local engagement, which has been particularly successful, has been the campaign by the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. The diocese straddles five Dáil constituencies and breakfast briefings were arranged in schools in all five areas during the month of June. Principals, chairpersons and politicians from the local area were invited to attend and received a briefing on the issue from representatives of the diocese, a member of the CPSMA secretariat, and from the principals.
The majority of TDs from the five constituencies attended and to raising the issue in their respective parliamentary party meetings. This initiative by the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin demonstrated the latent significant lobbying influence that the school-network represents.
With only a month to go until the Budget, CPSMA will continue to work with the other management bodies to secure an increase in funding for primary schools.
There is an opportunity for one final push to secure this increase and CPSMA encourages its members to contact their local elected representatives to ask them to support this campaign. It is important that the urgent need for this increase is communicated to as many TDs as possible in the coming weeks.