Department’s failure to close school with no pupils “bizarre” – Deputy Seán Crowe
Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Deputy Seán Crowe has described as “bizarre” the failure of the Department of Education to close Scoil Mhuire National School in Clonkeen, County Kerry.
Deputy Crowe said: “The Department must explain why seven weeks into the new school term Scoil Mhuire National School in Clonkeen, County Kerry, remains open despite having no pupils.
“I understand that there is a broad consensus amongst the school board and the principal that a fall in pupils attending Scoil Mhuire has made the school unviable. Last year the school had three pupils, a drop of nine from the previous year. The Head of Scoil Mhuire’s Board of Management, Fr Bill Radley, has confirmed that the school made its returns to the Department of Education as required by September 30th, informing them of the new situation and requesting the closure of the school and transfer of the principal.
“The board of management followed this up with a separate letter and a phone call to the relevant section of the department but they still have had no official or unofficial response.
“The school remains open with a principal in place who is working in a caretaker role in a building that remains empty. This is a waste of taxpayers’ money and is very unfair on the principal as he is being denied the opportunity to be placed on a panel that would allow him the opportunity of being transferred to another teaching post.
“There has been an obvious breakdown in the system. The principal has been making himself busy preparing the school for closure and doing the important job of preserving school records from down through the years but there is a limit to what a teacher can do working in a school without any pupils.
“The situation at Scoil Mhuire highlights serious inefficiencies within the department at a time when the education system is at a point of crisis as it absorbs the loss of services, increasing teacher/pupil rations, the loss of Special Needs Teachers, supports for Traveller children and specialised language support teachers.
“The continued opening of this school sends out the wrong message at this difficult time. It is unfair on the school principal and unfair on tax payers who are ultimately paying for this oversight.” ENDS