Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien has urged Minister Ruairí Quinn to seriously consider the pre-budget submissions from stakeholders working in the Irish education sector before overseeing further cuts to frontline services.
Deputy O’Brien said: “As we approach December’s Budget there are growing fears that the €77 million likely to be cut from education will bring many schools close to tipping point and prevent many from providing an adequate standard of education.
“It is clear that successive budget cuts are having a serious impact, like for example the reduction in the Capitation Grant and School’s Work’s Programmes that have forced school authorities to increasingly turn to families who are being asked to make up the shortfall.
“There is mounting speculation that the pupil teacher ratio, which is already above the OECD average, will be increased meaning some post primary schools will find it impossible to maintain the 28 hour tuition week prescribed by the Department of Education and Skills.
“This is an appalling vista made worse by the imposition of the moratorium on appointments to posts of responsibility (PORs) which has had serious consequences, particularly in terms of school management.
“As a result of these cuts, subjects are being dropped from the list of options available to senior cycle students and combining higher and ordinary level students in the one class has become an increasingly common occurrence.
“All too often we are told that investment in our education system is a key requirement to our economic recovery but this rhetoric is not being matched by investment in our schools where cuts for short term gain are threatening the delivery of the school curriculum.
“Education Minister Ruairí Quinn needs to heed the warnings of those who are tasked with delivering in the classroom and realise that there is nothing left to cut from frontline education services.