The Labour Party is calling for a ban on school voluntary contributions which it says are fees in disguise.

The party is also calling for the back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance to be paid to all families with school -going children - on a universal rather than means test basis.

A policy document aimed at tackling education costs also includes a proposal that the State would pay for school books for all primary school children, extending to all secondary children over time.

Labour Senator Aodhan O'Riordain said the State currently spends €20 million on the book rental scheme and that an additional €20m would ensure all school children around the country would not have to pay for books.

He said the so-called voluntary contributions are in effect obligatory in many schools and amount to "a school fee in another guise" which he said "works against the Constitutional commitment to the provision of free primary education."

He said the Government should increase the capitation grants paid to schools to replace any money lost through a ban on these contributions.