The country's primary schools have called for an immediate 50% increase in basic State funding.

They say increased investment is now essential so that school communities are not totally dependent on voluntary contributions from "already hard-pressed parents to provide basic requirements, such as heat, light and water".

The call has come in a joint statement issued by the patron bodies of all of the country's primary schools.

As well as a 50% increase in core 'capitation' funding, the management bodies have also called for a 10% increase across all other State capitation funding for primary schools. These include funding to pay for school secretaries and caretakers.

They say that schools cannot survive on current funding.

"Even before the recent alarming rises in electricity prices, the price of heating oil has risen by nearly 115% in a year, and general inflation rates are running at over 9%," the statement says.

"Schools cannot survive, let alone thrive, on the current rates."

Seamus Mulconry of the Catholic Primary School Managers Association (CPMSA) said parents have been subsidising schools for years "but the Bank of Mum and Dad is not solvent enough to support primary schools - the State must act to fulfil its constitutional obligation to provide a free primary education".

The CPMSA represents the managers of more than 90% of the country's primary schools.

Emer Nowlen of Educate Together said: "When schools are underfunded, disadvantaged students lose out most. Chronic underfunding is now at crisis level and the Government must act."

The managers of special schools say they are particularly concerned about the cost of school insurance, which has been "soaring" in the special education needs sector they say.

The National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education said schools could not continue paying up to €50,000 per annum for insurance, and needed urgent support.