Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson makes submission to Education Strategy Consultation – Nolan
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills, Deputy Carol Nolan, has prepared a submission to the Department on the establishment of an educational strategy under the Programme for Government. In her submission, Deputy Nolan calls for a number of commitments from the Government in the areas of early years education, the tackling of disadvantage within the education system, greater diversity and choice for parents and the provision of special needs education.
Speaking today from Leinster House, Deputy Nolan said:
“I welcome the opportunity to make this submission on behalf of my party in response to the consultation process established by Minister Bruton and I hope that the suggestions I have made will be taken on board as the incoming government develops its strategy in the area of education.
“Education is, unfortunately, an area that has suffered hugely as a result of significant underinvestment and harsh cutbacks in recent years. Supports for children with special needs have been cut so that they now have less time with the Special Needs Assistants and Resource Teachers. Student Fees have been increased and grant supports have been cut, meaning many third level students have had to leave their courses.
“Students are being taught in overcrowded classrooms while principals are finding it more and more difficult to cover the basic costs of running a school, such as paying for light, heat and insurance. Increasingly the costs of ‘free education’ are being passed on to parents and are presenting a real burden to those children of lower and middle income families.
“Guidance counselling services have been cut dramatically, leaving children from less well-off backgrounds at a major disadvantage. Access to education for children from lower socio-economic groups and those with special needs continues to be at a lower rate than the rest of the population, while legal provisions exist which allow children to be refused access to their local school on religious grounds.
“As a teacher with over 12 years of classroom experience, I am well aware of the impact of successive cutbacks on our children and this submission sets out a number of constructive recommendations that Sinn Féin believes will help improve our educational system for the benefit of all.”