Deis teacher cuts still on agenda

 

The controversy over cuts to disadvantaged schools has resurfaced after Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said his department was still seeking cuts in teaching posts in Deis schools.

Addressing the Oireachtas Education Committee, the Minister said that while the current review of Budget changes would address some concerns, there would still be a reduction in resources.

Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power accused the Government of “spinning a yarn” that the decision to remove 428 posts from Deis schools would be reversed.

“This confirms my fears that the Government simply announced an empty review of the Deis cuts to take the heat out the controversy and buy themselves some time,” she said.

Addressing the Committee, Mr Quinn told members that the gap between public spending and total Exchequer revenue was more than twice the total Department of Education budget of over €8.5 billion. “That’s the scale of the problem. There are no sacred cows. Everything has to be looked at.’’

On small rural schools which are threatened with closure, he said they will have to “take their share of the burden’’ as the State battles its way out of receivership.

It was not a case of the Government in Dublin forcing the closure of schools in rural Ireland, he said. While he recognised this was an emotional issue, small schools had been given notice that the kind of pupil teacher ratios enjoyed by some was not sustainable in the longer term.

On guidance, the Minister said only 40 per cent of second level schools had a dedicated guidance counsellor. He said every teacher was involved in the pastoral care of their pupils. What he had done was to devolve power to local schools to make decisions about how best to use their total teaching resources; the kind of approach favoured in Finland and other much admired education systems.