The Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has confirmed to Fianna Fáil that the number of one teacher schools in the country could jump from 8 to as high as 60 from September, as a result of Government increases to pupil teacher thresholds.
In reply to questions from Fianna Fáil in the Dáil today, Minister Quinn said there are currently 8 one teacher schools in the country, but that this is set to increase to as high as 60 in September based on current enrollment figures. The impending cuts are a direct result of rolling increases in the pupil teacher ratio introduced by Minister Quinn in his first budget in office, Budget 2012.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “This is a direct admission from Minister Quinn about the real impact of his cuts on smaller schools. As it stands, 52 two teacher schools are on course to be downgraded to one teacher schools because their pupil numbers are below the new threshold of 20 required by Minister Quinn to retain two teachers.
“The Minister also confirmed in reply to my questions that 61 three teacher schools have fallen below the new threshold for retaining all of their teachers. This means they have already lost a teacher or are at risk of losing a teacher in the future. Similarly, 50 four teacher schools have been caught by the new pupil teacher ratio and have already been hit with cuts or are on course for future cuts to staffing levels.
“This is real evidence of the Government’s targeted campaign against small schools. The burden of Minister Quinn’s changes to the Pupil Teacher Ratio has fallen on rural schools, minority faith schools and Gaeltacht schools. The cuts are based on pupil numbers alone, with no consideration of the geography of an area, a school’s particular ethos or the school’s position on the community. The number of schools affected adds to concerns that this is an underhand campaign to eventually force schools in more rural areas to amalgamate.”