SF O’Brien seeks meeting with Minister over School Cuts

Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O’Brien has sought a face-to-face meeting with the Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, over cutbacks which will see class sizes double in some Northside Schools.

 Deputy O’Brien said:

 “Yesterday I met with the principals of primary schools across the Northside who will be affected by the education cuts in this budget. They informed me that approximately forty teachers will be lost by 12 primary schools in disadvantaged areas of Cork’s Northside.”

 “In some schools the cuts will result in pupil-teacher ratios increasing from 15:1 to 22:1 in the junior section. What this will mean in practice is that classes will be doubled up and children will get half the amount of attention.”

 “All these schools have been designated DEIS schools, due to the high number of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds they enrol. Over the past number of years they have done huge work in improving educational outcomes for these children, through the personal relationship pupils have with their teachers in smaller classes and small group work. Experience has shown this has made a real difference to educational outcomes, especially in basic literacy and maths.”

 “Now all this progress is being put at risk. Increased class sizes will mean less time is spent by the teacher with each individual pupil. Factor in that these schools have already been hit hard by cuts in SNAs and other support services and the reality is the educational chances of children on Cork’s Northside are being seriously undermined.”

 “While we live in straightened times, the government still has choices. It could have implemented Labour’s declared policy during the general election – a new 48% tax rate on individual incomes over €100,000 – rather than cutting teachers in disadvantaged schools. Unfortunately, the coalition has chosen to make the vulnerable in our society take the brunt of the pain.”  “I will be raising this issue in the Dail at 5pm today and have requested a face-to-face meeting with Minister Quinn to underline the importance of reversing these cutbacks now and protecting the future education of children in Cork.”

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