Published date: 05 Mar 2024

Free School Books are an important intervention to addressing school costs at second level  

The Children’s Rights Alliance warmly welcomes details announced today (05.03.2024) by Minister Norma Foley on the expansion of the Free Schoolbooks Scheme to Junior Cycle students in post-primary schools.

The historic investment of over €68 million, previously announced in Budget 2024, will benefit more than 212,000 students across 670 post-primary schools across the country and will allow for the provision of free schoolbooks in addition to core classroom resources such as journals, copybooks, dictionaries and calculators.

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said:

“The details announced today show a continued commitment from Government to tackle child poverty. The mounting costs of going back to school can place a significant strain on families living in poverty. The cost of books, copies, and other necessary school supplies is a constant barrier for children and families returning to school every September. We know from our members the Society of St Vincent de Paul that the introduction of the free schoolbook scheme at primary level made an immediate and tangible difference to families across the country, with calls for support down by 20% in the first year of the scheme.”

“To see the scheme expanded to post-primary is a game changer in addressing child poverty in Ireland today. As children grow and progress through the education system, the costs to access the system increase significantly. For first-year students in post-primary, the Barnardos Back to School Survey found the average back to school cost increases to a whopping €972 per student, with €232 needed to cover the cost of school books alone. When you consider families with multiple children in school or households relying on one wage, it is easy to see how this can push families into poverty.”

“This financial burden on the family can have a negative impact on a child’s overall school experience.  They may be unable to afford things like extra-curricular activities, which can positively contribute to their mental wellbeing and social development. This investment will see money going back into the pockets of families trying to juggle these everyday costs and adds a layer of certainty that is often missing for families living in poverty.”

Sustained commitment to addressing child poverty needs to be backed up with budgetary investment and we have seen this year on year with this scheme, building from a pilot to now benefitting over three quarters of a million students. We welcomed this announcement in last year’s budget and we hope to see continued investment in Budget 2025 to all second level students.”




For media queries contact:  

Gillian Hogan: [email protected] /087 997 1410  

Notes to Editors:  

  • Spokespeople from the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for media interviews.  
  • Barnardos Back to School Survey 2023 is available here. 

About the Children’s Rights Alliance
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites 150 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL #EndChildPoverty  

For media queries, please contact:

Emma Archbold

Campaigns and Communications Director