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Thursday 22 March 2018

School tours cancelled due to money troubles

Katherine Donnelly

PUPILS are losing out on their annual school tours because of financial pressure on their parents and staffing cutbacks.

The end-of-year day out, an eagerly awaited date in the school calendar, has been cancelled by a number of schools, it has emerged.

One 900-pupil primary school in west Dublin has explained its reasoning in a letter sent to parents in the past week.

Sean O Diomasaigh, principal of Sacred Heart of Jesus National School, Huntstown, said he was well aware that some families were struggling to make ends meet.

"This current school year has been a difficult time for many families, particularly those affected by unemployment or a reduction in their take-home pay," he wrote.

For this reason, he already told parents not to buy presents for teachers at Christmas or any other time, and had asked staff to be mindful of the economic climate when compiling children's book lists.

Mr O Diomasaigh said the months of May and June had traditionally been associated with additional financial burden on families in relation to budgeting for First Holy Communion, school tours, summer holidays and back-to-school costs.

The Huntstown principal also referred to the moratorium on filling promotional posts in the public service, which has left many vacancies at middle management level in schools.

Teacher unions have issued directives to their members not to cover vacant posts, which has impacted on a range of school activities.

Mr O Diomasaigh said while there had been many reductions in services due to industrial action throughout the public service, the school had continued to provide many extra-curricular activities.

But he said the formal end-of-year school tours would not be going ahead because the teacher with responsibility for organising and arranging them was currently on leave of absence and the Department of Education would not allow the promotion of another member of staff to carry out these duties.

The INTO said it was aware that last year and this year a number of primary schools did not organise school trips in order to avoid putting additional financial pressure on parents.

Irish Independent

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