Pupils at a national school in Co Cork have been asked to provide their own toilet paper to help off-set costs.

Catherine O'Neill, the head teacher at St John's Girls National School in Carrigaline, has written to parents asking them to help the school save money.

Ms O'Neill says the letter was sent out as way to help 'balance the books'. She said the letter was not intended as a demand but was a request.

She said there is no question that if a child did not bring in toilet roll that they would not have access to toilet paper. 'The toilet roll is kept in a box in the classroom and they will be used to replenish the stock in the bathrooms as necessary,' she said.

It is just one of a number of initiatives that the school has been using to save money. The school has recently received its first Green Flag and has cut down enormously in its rubbish and they hope to cut down on electricity costs too.

Ms O'Neill says that this year the school does not have any grants for library books, free books grant or computer grant so any money that is not being supplied is still needed.

The school does already ask for voluntary contributions from parents, which Ms O'Neill says is used to cover insurance, arts and crafts and for equipment for classrooms.

Since January 2008, St John's Girls National School, which has 350 pupils, has received grants of €379,000.

Ms O'Neill said that primary school education has always been under-funded and will always need more no matter how much the Department of Education provides.

She said that the reaction from parents has been quite good with about half of the pupils bringing in toilet rolls, and there has been no negative feedback from parents about the request.

The Principal said she is 'somewhat taken aback' that the story has hit the headlines but it was just one way of saving money that the school could put to some other use.

Ms O'Neill said she is in no doubt that there is an enormous number of schools that are doing the very same thing.

A spokesman for the Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe has pointed out that capitation for the school in question has risen from €80,000 in 2007 to €102,000 this year - and this should be more than adequate to cover costs for the needs of pupils.