Organisation of Private Education
At primary level, the State plays no role in the regulation or funding of private primary schools, other than ensuring, through the work of TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency, that each student receives a certain minimum education. Private primary schools are not obliged to send statistical returns to the Department of Education and Skills. However, returns submitted from 27 non-aided schools indicate that they catered in 2015/16 for 3727 children, or 0.7% of overall primary enrolment. The Department has no role in inspecting private primary schools, other than, through the Child and Family Agency, ensuring that pupils receive a certain minimum education.
At post primary level, the Department of Education and Skills provides funds for staffing, and provides grants towards the running costs and capital costs of schools in the Free Education Scheme. Such schools may not charge fees.
There are also a limited number of private schools which are not part of the Free Education Scheme, which may charge fees, but receive reduced levels of funding from the Department towards their staffing costs. Such schools provide the curriculum devised by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and approved by the Minister, in addition to a range of extra curricular activities. They offer the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations of the State Examinations Commission. There are 56 such schools catering for approximately 25000 pupils, about 6.7% of overall post primary enrolment.
Private providers of further and higher education may agree their quality assurance criteria with Quality and Qualifications Ireland and offer awards under the national framework of qualifications. Such providers (of FE) do not generally receive State funding, unless they have been successful in bidding for funds under a limited range of competitive funding streams open to both the public and private sectors, such as the Springboard or Momentum initiatives targeted at the unemployed.