Sunday 25 March 2018

Principal of island school pleads for extra teacher ahead of new term

Plea: Orlaith Breathnach
Plea: Orlaith Breathnach
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

An island school that is pleading for a second teacher to help cover classes for every grade is still in limbo just weeks before term starts.

Orlaith Breathnach, principal of Scoil Náisiúnta Inis Meáin, is currently the only teacher at the Aran Islands school, which has nine pupils enrolled for September.

The students range in age from four to 13, with children in all classes from junior infants up to sixth class. Ms Breathnach must provide the full curriculum for all eight years, while also carrying out all break-time supervision.

As the only school on the island, there is no option of amalgamation.

A delegation travelled to Dublin last month in the hopes of securing a second teacher.

However, despite their appeals, no further staff member has been provided.

Nevertheless, Ms Breathnach is hopeful that a solution can still be found.

"It is ongoing. There isn't any change at the moment. It is being worked on all the time, so we have our fingers crossed," she said.

"We're still in contact with the department and we're still trying to find a solution.

The island school had benefited from a special dispensation for one-school islands, which allowed it to have two teachers if it had at least eight students.

However, it lost its second teacher in 2012 when enrolment dropped to six.

Islanders now fear that the lack of a second teacher will force families to move for the benefit of their children's education.

A statement from the Department of Education and Skills said: "The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous September 30."

It stated the school had an enrolment of three pupils on September 30, 2014, which provides for an allocation of one teacher for the 2015-16 school year.

Irish Independent

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