Minister Foley announces details of a new scheme to eliminate the cost of schoolbooks in primary schools and special schools

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has today (Wednesday 22 March 2023) announced details of a groundbreaking new scheme which provides free schoolbooks in primary schools and special schools. 

More than 558,000 pupils enrolled in approximately 3,230 primary schools, including over 130 special schools, will benefit from the new scheme.  

This initiative will provide not only free schoolbooks, but also workbooks and copybooks easing the financial burdens facing families during back-to-school- time.

This funding will also provide schools with an Administration Support Grant to assist with the roll out and implementation of the scheme and to relieve the administrative burden on schools.

The investment of over €50 million significantly increases the funding for school books currently provided to all recognised primary schools in the country and delivers on the commitment in the Programme for Government to extend the free school book pilot, currently in over 100 primary schools in the DEIS programme.

This scheme will ensure that parents and guardians will not be asked to buy or rent any school books, workbooks or copy books as of autumn 2023. The Department is issuing guidance for schools and any school with queries about the scheme can contact the Department directly.

Minister Foley said: “I am delighted to announce details of the funding package of over €50 million secured in Budget 2023 for the landmark new scheme to provide free schoolbooks in all primary schools and special schools. 

“This ground-breaking, permanent measure will ease some of the financial burden facing families with the back-to- school costs.

“The scheme will provide, at a minimum, free schoolbooks, workbooks and copybooks for all pupils enrolled in primary and special schools in the 2023/24 school year.


“Around 558,000 children and young people, their families and their schools will benefit from the initiative. The objective of the new scheme is about ensuring every child has the resources required to access education and also easing financial burdens surrounding the back to school costs which can be a cause of financial difficulty for many families each year.

“By providing our primary school children with free school books, we are enhancing their educational experience, not just in the classroom but reaching out into the family home.”


This new scheme means that:

  • Schoolbooks, workbooks and copybooks will be provided for all pupils from schools
  • There is no need parents or guardians to buy or rent these items
  • Schools will be provided with sufficient funding to cover the costs of providing these items
  • Schoolbooks are the property of the school and must be returned at the end of the school year.
  • Schools will be provided with additional administration support.

To support the administration of this scheme the Department is allocating a grant to primary schools for the 2023/24 school year, based on the size of the school, to assist with any additional work required in order to implement the scheme.  Schools may use this grant to employ an individual to carry out administrative work on the scheme.

The Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD said “I am delighted to see this Programme for Government commitment delivered, with free schoolbooks for all pupils in primary and special schools. This initiative will help reduce the impact of the rising cost of living and will provide significant support to parents of children with special educational needs who may be attending mainstream primary classes, special classes in primary schools or special schools.

“I am particularly pleased to see the flexibility that is being built into the scheme to cater for children with special educational needs whereby schools are empowered to use funding to purchase related classroom resources to meet the learning needs of the pupils in their class  once any cost of providing appropriate schoolbooks, workbooks and copybooks is met. This flexibility is particularly important for students with special educational needs attending mainstream classes at primary and over 19,000 students  attending special classes in primary schools and special schools.”

The Department has published guidance for schools and information for parents on how the new scheme will operate.