DEIS funding u-turn welcome, but more must be done to level the playing field - Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has today welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Education of the extension in reduction of pupil-teacher ratio to all urban DEIS Band 1 schools.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“The pandemic has shown us once again that Irish schools are underfunded, understaffed and overcrowded. Budget 2021 provided the government with an opportunity to finally address this.
“While we welcomed the announcement of the one-point pupil teacher reduction, we expressed our grave concern that the Minister for Education had shamefully ignored some of the most disadvantaged children in our education system.
“During the most recent General Election we reaffirmed our commitment to reducing the student/teacher ratio to 20:1 at primary level. In our Alternative Budget 2021, we committed to a two-point reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio for all schools.
“In Budget 2021, the government proposed a one-point reduction, and to DEIS Band 1 senior schools only, ignoring the junior and vertical schools which are the majority of the DEIS Band 1 schools across the country.
“During the debate on the Budget, I in no uncertain terms expressed my anger and disappointment at the thousands of kids being left behind and have since repeatedly called on the government to resolve this.
“I welcome that this morning Minister Foley has listened to the concerns of opposition, and has decided to extend this reduction in pupil-teacher ratio to all urban DEIS Band 1 schools.
“I also note some increased support in terms of school completion, which is welcome. But I also believe that there is a huge potential role for Home School Community Liaison, and I hope that additional resources are made so more schools can avail of these supports.
“With the recent closure of schools, now more than ever it is important that we ensure DEIS schools are properly funded, and that some of the most vulnerable children are not left to fall between the cracks of the education system due to government underfunding.
“This is a positive step in the right direction, but I will continue to put pressure on the government to put its money where its mouth is, and to make sure some of the most disadvantaged children in our education system do not miss out."