Thursday 22 March 2018

Another 40 schools face having staff cut to just one teacher

More cuts could be on the way
More cuts could be on the way

Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor

More than 40 additional schools are likely to be reduced to only one teacher from September.

The massive increase now appears inevitable after a third year of cuts.

Preliminary figures revealed by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn recently indicated there could be about 60 mainland one-teacher schools next September – up from eight in 2012.

The estimate is based on enrolments last September, but if schools can show that their numbers are set to rise next September, they may get a reprieve.

However, the Department of Education has confirmed to the Irish Independent that only 15 two-teacher schools appealed the loss of a teacher, eight of which have been provisionally upheld.

That means seven did not succeed and are facing a loss, along with those that did not appeal because they had no chance of meeting the required level of enrolments.

The next meetings of the Staffing Appeals Board, due to be held in June and October, will determine the final position in relation to the number of schools that will be able to retain their second teaching post.

There has been a phased increase in the pupil-teacher ratio in two-, three- and four-teacher schools since September 2012

It has affected schools with less than 86 pupils – about half of the 3,200 primary schools. In 2011, a two-teacher school needed 12 pupils to retain its teachers, a three-teacher school needed 49 pupils, while a four-teacher school needed 81 to retain its four teachers.

From next September, a school will need a minimum of 20 pupils to retain two teachers, 56 to employ three teachers and 86 for four teachers.

A number of island schools are also threatened with the loss of a teacher, but they are getting special consideration.


The threat to small schools will be one of the major issues up for discussion at the annual conference of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) starting today.

INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan said, to date, there had been an absence of leadership in this area.

She said amalgamation was one option available but decisions must involve local management, teachers, parents and the wider community.

Ms Nunan said that one-teacher schools were not acceptable and she called on the minister to respond positively to the concerns of teachers and management in this area.

"It is unfair to allow individual small schools to decline in enrolments without planning a sustainable future for education in every part of the country," she said

She warned that it was a complex matter and that factors aside from enrolments must be considered, such as ethos, language and local geography.

Irish Independent

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