Smaller schools must be protected – Colreavy
Speaking in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin TD for Sligo and North Leitrim Michael Colreavy criticised the Value for Money Review of smaller primary schools.
Deputy Colreavy said:
“In the Sligo-Leitrim area there many smaller schools with two teachers.
“The pupils, parents, management boards, teachers and wider communities in these school areas are very tearful that the Value for Money Review of smaller schools is misleading. It is a study into how to provide the cheapest form of primary education.
“In order to judge value for money one must be able to measure and compare outcomes. What outcomes are being measured and compared? The INTO claims that the outcomes of smaller primary schools are at least as good as outcomes of larger schools.
“Based on Department of Education figures of the number of smaller schools the projected savings if amalgamated it would be approx €80,000 per school amalgamated. €80,000 for what?
“There will be higher transport charges; children will spend longer on the school bus morning and evening; children from closed smaller schools will be sent to, in many cases, already overcrowded classes and schools which will require greater investment in facilities.
“People in rural areas have witnessed severe downgrading of their potential in the last decade including closure of Garda stations, post offices, shops, pubs; difficulty getting planning permission for one-off houses in rural areas; football clubs weakened through emigration.
“And now we have this threat of closure of smaller primary schools.
“I must compliment Junior Minister John Perry – at a public meeting in Sligo last night Minister Perry gave an unequivocal undertaking that no smaller school in Sligo or Leitrim would be closed on his watch.
“I want to place on the record of this house my appreciation of his clarity on this and I ask the Minister for Education to provide similar clarity for smaller primary schools state-wide.” ENDS