Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has called on the Government to ensure that DEIS funding is protected into the future to maintain and increase school retention rates. He was responding to the latest School Retention Report, which revealed that over 90% of students who entered secondary school in 2008 have completed their Leaving Cert.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “The latest statistics on school retention rates are encouraging and show that the decision by Fianna Fáil to introduce the DEIS scheme almost 10 years ago has been instrumental in prioritising the educational needs of children from disadvantaged backgrounds and has played a key role in keeping them in the education system.
“Minister Jan O’Sullivan needs to build on this success and ensure that DEIS funding is protected into the future. We saw a major public outcry in 2012 when Minister Ruairi Quinn attempted to cut resources for the programme, and although there was a partial u-turn, there were still a number of DEIS schools that suffered cuts. This cannot be allowed to happen again.
“Similarly, Minister O’Sullivan needs to examine and increase guidance counsellor numbers to ensure that students are given the best possible opportunities and outcomes in our education system. Changes brought in by this Government are proving detrimental, with the number of counsellors drastically reduced and one-on-one counsellor-student times slashed as a result.
“The cap on guidance counsellors has not only undermined the role of counsellors themselves, it severely restricts the student experience. Fianna Fáil has always respected the role of guidance counsellors and believes they play an integral role, especially at second level. I’m urging the Minister to reconsider the decision to manage guidance provision within the standard teaching allocation and to find the resources to ensure that all schools have the necessary support structures in place for their students”.