Wednesday 17 January 2018

State retains teaching jobs but slashes school grants

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

THE Government is rowing back on plans to cut teachers in disadvantaged and small rural schools -- but at a price.

It has cut the number of teaching posts to be axed in disadvantaged schools by more then half.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is retaining 235 of the 428 jobs in disadvantaged schools originally earmarked for a cut. Mr Quinn has said: "I accept that I got it wrong."

There was a broad welcome last night for the decision to exclude the most disadvantaged schools from the Budget decision to axe 428 primary teaching jobs.

Mr Quinn is also softening the blow for small rural schools facing staff cuts from September because of new pupil-teacher ratio rules.

He announced last night that schools projecting higher enrolments next September can use those figures to appeal a cut in teacher numbers.

Normally, teacher allocations for September are based on enrolments for the previous September and some rural schools said they would be badly hit because their pupil numbers were rising.

The partial climbdown on teacher numbers in disadvantaged and rural schools followed an outcry from parents, teachers and school principals in the affected communities.

On disadvantaged schools, last month Mr Quinn announced a review of the impact on the 140 most severely affected and he published its report yesterday.

It showed that 107 schools would lose between 0.5 and two posts, 22 schools would lose between three and four posts, three schools would lose more than five posts and eight schools would not lose any posts.


But to pay for the partial reversal, the Department of Education is slicing another €5 per pupil off the grant it gives to all primary schools to meet running costs.

It will bring the capitation grant for schools, which pays for bills, down to €178 per pupil, backdated to January.

That comes on top of a €7 per head reduction already implemented last month when the capitation grant was reduced from €190 to €183.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) also welcomed the move. However there was criticism of the decision to pay for it by cutting the capitation grant.

Sean Cottrell, director of the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN), said the decision to pay for a partial row-back on cuts to resources for schools in disadvantaged areas with a further decrease in school funding amounted to "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

Irish Independent

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