Government failing children as schools ‘starved of resources’

Budget must protect frontline services, secondary school managers urge

The Government has been accused of  starving schools of resources, implementing cuts ‘by stealth’ and depriving this generation of “cutback kids” of an adequate education.

The Government has been accused of starving schools of resources, implementing cuts ‘by stealth’ and depriving this generation of “cutback kids” of an adequate education.

Wed, Sep 25, 2013, 12:59

The government is starving schools of resources, implementing cuts “by stealth” and depriving this generation of “cutback kids” of an adequate education, the organisation representing managers of almost 400 secondary schools said today.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn and the government are failing to prioritise the young, the vulnerable and the nation’s future in their allocation of resources, it added.

In a pre-budget submission, the Joint Managerial Body representing managers of Catholic and Protestant secondary schools said hard-pressed schools are “at breaking point” and can take no more cuts to frontline services.

“The Budget must prioritise and protect frontline services,” JMB General Secretary Ferdia Kelly said, urging the government to recapture the vision of Donogh O’Malley, the Minister for Education who announced free post-primary education in 1967.

Mr Kelly said schools have lost guidance counsellors and suffered cuts in the numbers of language and special needs teachers as well as year heads and other supports.

The 2011 programme for government declared education was at the heart of sustainable economic growth and said it would prioritise frontline services but that hadn’t happened, he said.

“The government is spinning to the public that things are still the same but they are not,” he said. There had been a decrease “by stealth” of almost one percent in the pupil teacher ratio, class sizes were at a maximum and subjects were being dropped from senior cycle.

Michael Redmond, JMB research and development officer, said this generation has suffered education cuts worse than any in the State’s history. Every other generation had a better education experience than their parents but not this generation who will be known as the “cutback kids”, he said.

The submissions said services to students in need including travellers were being eroded, capitation grants had been cut by 11 per cent and the moratorium on appointment of posts of responsibility in schools was forcing principals to take on the tasks of key posts such as year heads and special needs organisers with consequent impact on the principals’ ability to fulfil their own responsibilities.

The “catastrophic” cuts in guidance counselling particularly exposed the lack of vision as a lot of counselling work was about stopping problems at source, it said.

Immediate restoration of guidance provision was a “no brainer”as the axing of this service affected the most vulnerable and it made no sense to have government educational policy add to the problem of high youth unemployment.