independent

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Politicians call for solution to school dispute

Margaret Roddy

Local politicians have added their voices to the calls for a resolution to the dispute which is threatening the future of Faughart School.

'I firmly believe that the issue of Church involvement through the Board of Management in employing people at primary school level is creating a difficulty in how you deal with staffing issues. I am saying this as someone who has 35 year's experience in teaching at primary level', said Deputy Declan Breathnach, Fianna Fail.

'The Department of Education has deliberately kept their hands off the issue of employing teachers. If the Department had a stronger role in hiring and interviewing this would create a buffer between staffing problems at local level and the Board of Management and Patronage of the school. If staff were hired directly by the Department of Education, then it is at that level that any problems would have to be dealt with.'

He said he wrote to the Minister for Education numerous times regarding the on-going difficulties at Scoil Náisiunta Bhrighde in Faughart and that the reply he received from the Minister stated that 'concerns will be addressed by the Chairperson of the Board of Management in the first instance'.

'In my 35 years teaching I am aware that issues arise and there has to be due process. However there is a need for proper mechanisms to deal with staff issues and not just the 'pass the book' attitude.

The Department should also address the workload and the pressure in small schools on a principal who also has to teach in addition to dealing with all the administration that goes with running a school. In rural areas, the Department should look into hiring one Principal to look after a small cluster of schools, so that the teachers would be focussed on teaching alone. Where a Whole School Evaluation and the Inspectorate make criticisms, then there is an onus on the Inspectorate to deal with the issues that they have identified and not just land the Report on the school to sort out.'

'I am aware that a management system has been put in place, however, the numbers attending have decreased to a worrying level there is a danger that the school will be closed. This is a sad situation for the community, the staff, the teachers and the parents.'

Sinn Fein TD, Deputy Gerry Adams has called on both the Department of Education and the school patron Archbishop Eamon Martin to find a resolution to the ongoing dispute.

He said: 'I have previously shared my concerns with the Minister for Education about the welfare of the children, the morale of the school, and the danger that it may close if the issue is not resolved.'

'While the appointment of a new school manager Mrs Spring and her meeting with the parents over the summer break was welcomed, the parents involved feel very frustrated at the failure to find a resolution to the current difficulties.

Deputy Adams concluded: 'I have recently written to both the Minister for Education and the Archbishop in his role as school patron and requested that they urgently meet with a delegation of parents in order to address their concerns and address the potential impact the matter may have on this years enrolment.'

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