Cutbacks may force schools to axe vital subjects
Half the country's 730 post- primary schools face the prospect of reducing subject choices for students because of education cuts.
And hard-pressed parents will have to dig deeper to help raise funds for the day-to-day running of the schools.
This was revealed in a survey by the teachers' union, the ASTI, whose general secretary John White warned that some schools could be forced to close as a result.
"If a school cannot replace teachers of vital subjects such as physics then parents may send their children elsewhere and the school could eventually close down".
Research carried out by the union last month provides a snapshot of 20 second-level schools at a time when they were making decisions about subject choice as well as deployment of staffing and other resources for the coming school year.
Second-level schools may also have to introduce charges for parents of students studying certain practical-based subjects.
For example, 12 of the 20 schools said they would have to seek a financial contribution from the parents of students taking physics, chemistry and home economics because of the abolition of grant aid for these subjects announced as part of Budget 2009.
One school in Munster is already down €11,000 and says it will have to introduce charges for specific school activities.
It will also have to drop music and home economics for Leaving Cert students.
Another reported that a number of cheques bounced "arising from cash flow problems of parents".
The same school has had to cancel the annual trip to the Young Scientists Exhibition as well as a Transition Year tour.
Out of the 20 schools surveyed, 11 said that the education cuts announced in Budget 2009 meant that they would be reducing subject choice at senior cycle level; nine schools said they would be reducing subject choice at junior cycle level.
Nine schools -- almost half of those who participated in the research -- said they would be curtailing or dropping programmes such as the Leaving Certificate Applied and Transition Year.
Each school surveyed will lose an average of 2.6 teachers in September.
President Pat Hurley said the research affirmed the ASTI belief that all schools will lose teachers in September 2009 as a result of the increase in the pupil-teacher ratio announced in Budget 2009 last October.
The same budget also abolished grants provided to second-level schools for Transition Year, physics and chemistry, Leaving Cert Applied, and Leaving Cert Vocational.