In a joint statement issued today the Protestant and Catholic school management associations in the Diocese of Raphoe, Father John Joe Duffy from Arranmore and Rev John Deane from the Church of Ireland in Ardara, warned of “havoc” caused by the cuts.
They say the budget will cause particular damage in Co Donegal with 101 schools out of 175 hit with fewer teachers.
As a result this, they say, will leave schools worse off now than in the 1990s.
Some schools will be forced to close, hitting Protestant schools in particular.
You can read the entire joint statement below:
Issued by CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT PRIMARY SCHOOL MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATIONS IN DIOCESE OF RAPHOE
“Budget 2012 will inflict serious damage and wreak havoc particularly on small schools throughout Ireland. This blunt approach by Minister Quinn, imposing
cutbacks, will diminish resources in our schools leading to larger class
sizes, less resources and in some cases closure of small schools.
The budget has failed to protect the most vulnerable, and those most in need
of education and support, with cutbacks in the Deis programme, learning
support and special needs.
What is further disappointing regarding Budget 2012, is the manner in which
many of these cuts were announced by the government on budget day and
subsequently by the Minister. Many schools and communities only realised the
sheer extent and gravity of the budget cuts made by Minister Quinn in the
days following the budget, such as the changes in the staffing schedules for
small schools with less than 86 pupils. This will see such schools lose
teachers from this coming school year 2012/13, and onwards. The measures in
the new government policy will see schools with less than 20 pupils being
forced to close or amalgamate due to loss of the second teacher. The
increased pupil/teacher ratio is a retrospective change to 31 September
2011. The largest proportion of schools in Co. Donegal will be affected by
these measures. Based on enrolements figures for 31 September, 2010, primary schools in Co. Donegal 101 out of 175 primary schools will be affected by the increase in pupil/teacher ratio numbers. Many of our schools are small schools located in dispersed and isolated rural areas. This has been seriously frustrating, has created uncertainty for Principals, teachers and Boards of Management with regard to
school planning for the 2012/2013 school year. The Department needs to help
Principals and teachers and not hinder them with cuts and uncertainty.
Instead let them continue with what they do best, educating our children.
This means that we will be worse off than we were in the 1990’s, which will
mean the closure of many small schools. These changes in pupil/teacher ratio
means that it will become virtually impossible for many small schools to
function due to staffing cuts and these draconian austerity measures will
seriously undermine the Irish education system.
While the budgetary measures of 2012, will affect all schools in a negative
way, it will particularly and severely impact negatively on small schools
and Protestant schools, whose populations are small and sparsely located
throughout the country. Protestant schools in many instances serve their own
small rural catchments and are not close to any other Protestant school. The
closure of these schools would be unacceptable to all in our communities
where very young children would have to travel such long distances to avail
of their schools. This is true for a majority of small schools, both
Catholic and Protestant but in particular for Protestant schools. There has
being a total lack of thought and consideration towards all children in this
regard from the Minister, this government and the Department of Education. 27 out of 31 Protestant schools in Co. Donegal, will be severely and adveresley affected by the budget measures.
Since the foundation of the Irish National School System in 1831, Irish
parents have being afforded the choice of having their children educated
within a denominational education system. The provision of such a choice and
the support for these schools has being greatly valued by the Protestant and
Catholic communities at large.
Closure and amalgamation of Protestant schools will, in practice, result in
many parents being denied their rights to send their children to the nearest
school under Protestant management. That is something which we in Catholic
school management find most objectionable. The rights of our neighbours and
our dear friends, members of Protestant parishes must be respected and
The closure of any school is the death knell to its community. The Gaeltacht and other non-gaeltacht rural areas will be annihilated by the education cuts to small schools. Schools traditionally are the focal point of a community and the intricate fabric of society.
The essential value and the contribution small schools make cannot be
measured in monetary terms. The value of small schools to the education and
welfare of children in itself cannot be subject to monetary value. In many
cases the closures which will result as a consequence of the Minister’s
decision regarding small schools on a cost analysis benefit will be a very
minimal saving to the Exchequer and the Department.
The closure of some schools will result in higher transport costs for
parents. Changes have been made to eligibility for school transport and
school transport charges have increased, both of which will cause hardship
for families. Closure will lead to increased administration costs, increased
capital costs potentially in the school which children will be transferred
to, and in some cases new schools will be needed. Closure of small rural
schools will net the Department very little in staff savings as they will
have to be redeployed. It will likely lead to larger costs, certainly larger
costs for parents.
Minister Ruairi Quinn seems convinced that he can transform the Irish
education system through austerity. This will only lead to the further
eroding of the standards in education and the abilities of our future
generations to attain the standards of education that Ireland so badly
needs. The Irish people together must shout STOP to prevent this disastrous
outcome.Never has it been more important to invest in education, to invest
in our children and in our future. It was through education that the Irish
became great, not alone in this country but also globally recognised. To
savage that education system is to destroy our way out of this economic
disaster that was not of our childrens making. These savage cuts will
curtail and limit the potential of future generations. Now is the moment and
time for all political parties and for all organisations to stand up for the
education and future of our children, which is the future of our country.
This ill concieved and poorly thought out policy of discrimation against small schools, minority schools and the disadvantaged has to be changed.”
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