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Primary education groups unite to criticise ‘shameful’ cutbacks

Resource type: News

The Irish Times |


THE CAMPAIGN against the education cuts gained further momentum yesterday as 10 groups involved in primary education united to criticise the “shameful and immoral” cutbacks.

The National Alliance for Primary Education – an umbrella group representing school managers, principals, parents and teachers – described the Budget cuts as “a full-fronted attack on children and young people, and as intensely damaging to Ireland’s future”.

Paul Rowe of Educate Together said the deliberate targeting of the most vulnerable children was “shameful and immoral”.

The group has exhorted all of those with an interest in education to support today’s Dáil protest.

Privately, education lobby groups expect the Government to win Thursday’s critical Dáil vote on the education cutbacks.

But yesterday Declan Kelleher, president, the INTO, stressed: “We are ready for the long haul on this campaign right up to the local and European elections and it is our intention to fully expose those behind these cuts for what they have tried to do to the education of our four to 12-year-olds.”

While the Government may survive the Dáil vote, it still faces the prospect of school closures and children being sent home from next January, when the new limits on teacher substitution cover are implemented.

Seán Cottrell of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) said teachers would be very reluctant to close schools, but they also had a duty of care to students.

Mr Rowe said primary school managers were seeking legal advice on the issue of school closures in January.

The National Alliance said that the Budget measures would drive up the average class size to unacceptable levels, the financial shortfall would make schools far more difficult to run and the withdrawal of key supports and services would have “devastating consequences” for children who were already disadvantaged.

Mr Kelleher added: “The range and scale of the proposed cuts in frontline services and funding shows a complete lack of understanding as to how Irish classrooms and schools operate today.”

He said the “devastating proposal to increase class sizes” must be resisted by all involved in education “for the sake of the pupils in our care”.

The organisations forming the National Alliance are: An Foras Pátrúnachta; the Catholic Primary School Management Association; the Church of Ireland Board of Education; Eagraíocht na Scoileanna Gaeltachta Teo; Educate Together; Gaelscoileanna; the INTO; the IPPN; the National Association of Management Bodies in Special Education and the National Parents’ Council – Primary. Dónall Ó Conaill of Foras Pátrúnachta said the Government should focus on other ways of saving money besides “the ill-advised decision to row back on the achievements of recent years in education”.

Brian Hayes of Fine Gael yesterday called on Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe to verify his claim that only 200 teaching posts would be lost in primary schools because of budget cuts.

The INTO has released data showing that 1,000 teaching posts would go.

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