The Government has singled out disadvantaged schools for significant cuts to teacher numbers next year in another series of callous cuts in Budget 2012, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education & Skills Brendan Smith.
Under the plans, 428 posts allocated to disadvantaged schools around the country will be removed on a phased basis, beginning in 2012. The rules on class sizes under the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) programme will also be changed under the Fine Gael/Labour plan, meaning class sizes in many disadvantaged schools will be increased to 22 pupils.
Deputy Smith said: ““The Taoiseach today told the Dáil that his Government has ‘protected pupil teacher ratio’ in Budget 2012. This could not be further than the truth. The Fine Gael/Labour budget targets disadvantaged schools for cuts to teacher numbers from next year. This is yet another example of their Budget hitting the most vulnerable groups the hardest, while those on higher salaries escape the bulk of the cutbacks.
“Schools in disadvantaged areas face the greatest challenges and can least afford cuts to their staffing levels and services. The cuts announced in Budget will result in larger class sizes in most disadvantaged schools and will have a direct impact on the students who are the most vulnerable in our education system.
“The DEIS programme is the only scheme that targets educational disadvantage in rural Ireland. Now, many of these schools are set to lose teacher posts. In addition to this, Fine Gael and Labour have decided to introduce phased adjustments to staffing levels for schools with 1 to 4 teachers. This will directly lead to school closures in smaller communities and larger class sizes in many other small primary schools.
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has advised small rural schools to consider their future and “assess their options for amalgamation”. This has caused real fears in many communities across the country, who are set to lose their local primary schools under the Fine Gael/Labour Government’s plans.
“That disadvantaged schools and small rural schools have been singled out in this way is a disgrace. The Government had a series of choices to make in their Budget to achieve the necessary savings for next year. They chose to target vulnerable groups and rural communities for the bulk of the cutbacks, instead of asking those who could most afford it to play their part.”