Friday 23 February 2018

Rural schools set for teacher losses handed reprieve with new rules

Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan
Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Dozens of rural schools facing the loss of crucial teaching posts in the coming months have been handed a reprieve following the introduction of new rules surrounding pupil numbers.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has reduced the threshold levels that determine the number of teachers allocated to each school September.

The new measures being introduced by Ms O’Sullivan focus on protecting one, two, three and four teacher schools - most of which are rural-based.

Previously, three teacher schools were required to enrol at least 56 pupils otherwise they would lose one teaching post. Ms O’Sullivan has reduced the number to 53, which will provide schools authorities with much needed “breathing space”.

Similarly, a two teacher school that failed to meet the 20 pupil threshold was set to lose a post in September under previous rules. This threshold has been lowered by one as a result of the new measures.

And the pupil number threshold for a four teacher schools is being brought down from 86 to 83, the department said.

General Secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), Sheila Nunan, said the measures will give rural-based schools much needed certainty.

And the Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA) said the plan will alleviate concerns among local communities.

However, Fianna Fáil Education spokesperson Charlie McConalogue and his Sinn Fein counterpart Jonathan O’Brien said the measures do not go far enough to addressing the challenges facing schools.

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