Proposed cuts to small schools unacceptable - Deputy Jonathan O'Brien
Responding to comments made this week by education minister, Ruairí Quinn, that the pupil teacher ratio (PTR) in small schools would likely be increased in order to help meet the €44 million cuts to this year's education budget Sinn Féin Cork North Central TD Jonathan O’Brien said:
“Minister Quinn has made clear his intention again to target small schools by increasing their pupil teacher ratio (PTR) and this very regressive measure will come as a serious blow to rural communities.
“Increasing the PTR in small schools will make many of these schools unviable and force their closure
“The rationale behind these cuts is the continual implementation of the government’s austerity agenda and their determination to take a further €44 million out of the education budget.
“No consideration is being made to develop a small schools policy similar to what is in place in the Six Counties where the focus is on safeguarding strategically important schools and implementing policies that are strategically driven to deliver sustainable, high quality education.
“The decision to increase in the PTR is being taken at time when Irish classrooms are amongst the highest in Europe and the continual slashing of the Irish education budget has now reached unsustainable levels.
“This has been highlighted by the Education at a Glance 2013 Report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which ranked the 26 Counties in 29th place out of 32 OECD countries in terms of the percentage of public expenditure that is spend on our education system.”