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Government attempt to cut funding

At a certain stage of life one should gain an acceptance or stoicism in dealing with decisions one does not agree with.

In some ways, I actually thought I was getting there, but few things in recent years have annoyed me as much as the recently-announced education cuts. They have been sold on the basis that there is a bit of pain for everyone in this budget so teachers, who have cried wolf at times in the past, should shut up and get on with it.

The guiding principle behind any budgetary cutbacks should be that they protect the weak. These do exactly the opposite, no matter what the minister says and at this stage I very much doubt if Minister O'Keeffe actually understands how these things work in reality. Neither do a lot of commentators, but if any interested individual or group wants to see a school in its day-to-day mode, I would be very happy to have them in St Patrick's, Navan.

Another minister, Martin Cullen, went on Newstalk to accuse me of scaremongering. Cullen does not know what he is talking about and therefore should say nothing.

However, I am not surprised at him. Any sports minister -- and I presume he has some interest in sport -- who says we should just concentrate on sports in the Olympics where we have a chance of winning medals has no understanding of individuals striving to do their best. Imagine going to your local football club and telling the players that the club was only going to enter teams where they thought there was a chance of winning. You would be laughed out of town. It is the same for sprinters and long-distance athletes. Just because the Africans are better does not mean our best should not get the opportunity to run at the Olympics.

The practicalities of the increase in the pupil/teacher ratio for me is as follows. Next year, when a teacher retires they won't be replaced. In the likely event that another teacher moves school, I will then be down two.

The foundation classes that have been set up to cater for those struggling in maths and Irish at Leaving Cert level will be the first to go. The same will happen to the English classes which cater for foreign nationals who are having trouble with the language but may be very bright in other areas. These small groups of fewer than ten in each class will have to be amalgamated into pass classes and the reality is that they can't cope in there. These lads need a pass in maths especially to have a chance of an apprenticeship or any ordinary job. Five passes at Leaving Cert is a good achievement for many of these students.

In most cases, they also come from the lower income groups and have little educational ambition. Neither do they have a voice. On top of that, the budget cutbacks rule out the book grant of close to €10,000 which again was targeted at the weakest and most needy in school It meant that they always had books like everyone else. What will they do now if they can't afford books? This is without mentioning the

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