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Brittas Bay school to keep sixth teacher

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Deputy Stephen Donnelly

Deputy Stephen Donnelly

Deputy Stephen Donnelly

Scoil Mhuire Réalt Na Mara won't be losing one of their teachers for the school year ahead, as was feared.

The Brittas Bay national school was initially informed that they would lose one of their teachers at Christmas for the upcoming school year.

The Department of Education threatened to cut a teaching position because the school has less than 150 pupils.

The school argued that they desperately required a sixth teacher to help enforce social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the appeal was rejected.

The school hasScoil ho gym hall, no resource rooms and small, compact classrooms.

Deputy Stephen Donnelly backed the school's stance and insisted that all six teachers were required. If a teacher is out sick, for the first day of sick leave there is no sub cover allocated. If a teacher is absent due to family weddings, funerals, graduations or is uncertified sick, there is no substitute cover. The possibility of losing a teacher meant the school faced the prospect of 37 children being crammed into the already overcrowded classrooms.

'I wrote to the Minister on behalf of the school pointing out just how vital a sixth teacher was in order to prevent overcrowding during the Covid crisis,' said Deputy Donnelly.

'Parents and staff at the school had written to me outlining why this decision was so important for the school to be able to function properly. This is a school which does not have a PE hall or any resource rooms so has a limited ability to reduce class numbers. Without a sixth teacher in place it would have been almost impossible for them to operate in a sustainable way.

'Both teachers and pupils are already dealing with an extraordinary level of stress and disruption. It would have made it almost impossible for the children to be able to settle back into school life if the school was short staffed. It was absolutely vital they retained their sixth teacher which is why the eventual decision to allow it to happen was absolutely the right one.'

Deputy Donnelly is also calling for the school to be included in the Government's €40 million package to upgrade schools for next year.

Wicklow People