Pupil numbers cited in decision to cut Moyross teaching post

Limerick Diocese says department responsible for funding schools after priest called for gold to be sold

Moyross in Limerick where Fr Tony O’Riordan claims “we’re being punished for our hard efforts to deliver educational outcomes for kids”. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Moyross in Limerick where Fr Tony O’Riordan claims “we’re being punished for our hard efforts to deliver educational outcomes for kids”. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

The Department of Education has said a decision to remove a teaching post from a primary school in one of the most deprived parts of Limerick city was made in a “fair and transparent” way.

Corpus Christi primary school – close to the home of the Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan – lost one of its junior infant teachers as a result of failing to meet pupil thresholds for the allocation of additional teachers.

Moyross parish priest Fr Tony O’Riordan appealed on Sunday to churches around the country to sell any unused gold vessels or religious goods to help fund the post. The loss of a teacher would lead to the merger of two junior infant classes.

“We cannot easily stand over such a detrimental move knowing how negatively it will impact on these children’s futures and education. Therefore we have taken the decision to employ a teacher privately for as long as we can raise the funds for this post,” he said.

Fr O’Riordan said yesterday he had been inundated with offers of help from members of the public to fund the €30,000 salary of a primary school teacher.

He said he has not yet heard from other churches about whether they will be able to contribute religious goods to help with the fundraising campaign.

A Limerick Diocesan office spokesman said later few parishes would have items of any significant value “certainly not of the order that would fund a teaching post for anything other than the short term.”

He said the Department of Education has sole responsibility for funding of teaching posts in schools and has acknowledged and provided for many of the very special requirements of Deis schools across Limerick, including Corpus Christi in Moyross.

“Parish pastoral councils are encouraged to, and do typically, support their schools through a variety of measures. However, we are not aware of any situation where Church artefacts have been sold to help fund teaching posts, which is, again, the preserve of the Department,” he added.

He also said any decisions regarding the future use of gold vessels or religious goods “would have to consider also the intentions of families who would typically have donated them.”

A spokesman for Ms O’Sullivan said that last year the school was awarded an additional school post due to a growth in student numbers.

An additional post was provisionally allocated in the current school year on the basis of projected enrolment figures.

However, the final figure fell 12 students below the threshold required.

He added, however, that the number of full-time teaching posts in Corpus Christi for the 2014/15 school year was 21, compared to 20 for the previous school year.*

The spokesman added: “ If, over the coming months, it can be established that additional children will be enrolled in Corpus Christi, the department will review staffing levels.”

Fr O’Riordan said, however, that pupil numbers fluctuate significantly in the area as a result of Limerick’s regeneration plans.

“The bigger picture here is that Moyross is subject to Government-sponsored regeneration. We need teaching posts . . . We’re being punished for our hard efforts to deliver educational outcomes for kids,” he said.

“While we will not give up the campaign to lobby the department to meet its responsibilities, we will not let these children suffer education disadvantage if we can help it. And so we are appealing for help,” said Fr O’Riordan.

*This article was edited at 11.38am on Tuesday, November 4th, 2014