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Loss of 250 English Language Teachers unacceptable – Deputy Séan Crowe

26 May, 2011 - by Seán Crowe TD

Sinn Fein’s Education Spokesperson, Deputy Séan Crowe, has condemned last Friday's announcement by the Department of Education that it is to cut the number of English Language Teachers by 250 from September onwards.

Deputy Crowe, speaking after filing for an adjournment debate on the issue, said: “The loss of 250 English Language Teachers from September is double the cut that schools had expected.

“The Minister needs to explain how he can justify these measures which will impact on an education system that is already failing the literacy needs of our children. It is a decision that will have the most profound impact on the primary schools sector.

“I also condemn how this announcement was made as clearly there was an attempt to bury bad news when the media’s focus was on the visits of the English Queen and President Obama and the death of former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald.

“I also agree with the Irish National Teachers' Organisation who rightly point out that this decision, by a Labour Minister, is yet another attack on disadvantaged and marginalised children. It exposes the double standards of this Government who claim they are committed to improving literacy standards in schools.

“Last year’s OECD report found a dramatic fall in literacy standards in Irish schools across this state. These cuts will also have a significant impact on children from International backgrounds who cannot speak English or whose English is too weak to enable them to thrive in the classroom.

“The loss of 250 posts represents a cut of 18% to the number of language support teachers currently working in the system. Presently, there are 1,400 posts dedicated to supporting children whose English is weak and 80% of these posts are in the primary sector.

“Even the previous disastrous Government restricted the cuts to English Language Teachers to 125 and it is quite scandalous that Minister Quinn believes it is now necessary to speed up a process that will have serious and widespread consequences for many of our children.

“The Labour Party’s ‘Plan for Fairness in Education’ pledged to reintroduce up to 250 teaching posts of the 1200 posts being taken out of the system under the Four Year Plan proposed by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. How can Minister Quinn implement these cuts after making that commitment? It will be the families and children from disadvantaged backgrounds who will suffer most from these loss of services.” ENDS

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