Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has called on Minister Jan O’Sullivan to immediately publish a report on the future of small schools, which has been sitting in the Department for over 18 months.
The value for money report examined the efficiency and effectiveness of small schools across the country.
Following a meeting of the Oireachtas Education Committee Deputy McConalogue accused the Minister of adopting the same apathetic approach as her predecessor on this issue.
“Minister O’Sullivan is following in the footsteps of Minister Quinn by continuing to attack and dismantle small schools, while refusing to publish the very report which will determine their future. In the meantime, the Minister has implemented a slash and burn approach to schools with less than 86 pupils. These schools have seen massive resource cutbacks as well as substantial increases in the pupil teacher ratio”, said Deputy McConalogue.
“The number of one teacher schools has risen dramatically as a direct result of measures introduced in Budget 2012, increasing from 8 in 2011 to 42 in 2014. Almost 40 schools have lost a teacher this year alone because of the savage cuts being forced through by this Government. Nearly 20 two teacher schools have been downgraded in 2014 because pupil numbers have fallen, while three and four teacher schools are also in the firing line.
“Small schools are the lifeblood of so many rural communities, but the Minister is continuing to pursue her Government’s targeted plan to amalgamate or shut them down. This sustained attack is taking place in an information vacuum as the value for money report into the sector remains unpublished.
“It is essential that the Minister publishes the details of this important report before any further Education cuts are implemented. The drastic action that has been taken against small schools over the past three years has been disproportionate and unfair and I urge the Minister to abandon any further cutbacks until this report is published”.