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Education Minister living in cloud cuckoo land - Crowe

4 July, 2006


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Seán Crowe TD has called on Education Minister Mary Hanafin to provide an adequate allocation of English Second Language teachers for St. Mark's Junior School in Tallaght to cater for the 230 International newcomer children expected to enrol there between now and September. Speaking in the Dáil today the Tallaght based Deputy said the Minister was "clearly not rising up to the new challenge facing education in Ireland today."

He said, "In my own constituency in Tallaght St. Mark''s Junior school's projected enrolment will reach 554 pupils by this September. 230 of these students are International newcomer children, the vast majority of who require English Second Language (ESL) teachers, as English is not their first language, some having just basic levels and some none at all. The school in question however only has an allocation of 3 ESL teachers, one extra as it is deemed an exceptional case.

"However putting this cap on the number of ESL teachers, which is normally capped at 2 no matter how many newcomer pupils are enrolled, will inevitably lead to disadvantaging students and their teachers alike.

"A school that opts to embrace multiculturalism and diversity by facilitating newcomer children should receive the appropriate funding and resources and should not be put at a disadvantage, which is currently what is happening.

"The school in question has had to divide classrooms, lose their library and will lose their gym if funding for at least 2 prefabs is not immediately released by the Minister for Education. The Minister's response to my pleas on behalf of concerned teachers and parents alike was to send their kids to another school.

"Minister Hanafin is clearly not rising up to the new challenge facing education in Ireland today. Resources are not forthcoming and this is unacceptable to teachers, parents and the children themselves. If she believes that pupils should lose their library, be taught in a PE hall and not have sufficient number of resource teachers in this day and age then she is living in cloud cuckoo land. She must provide an adequate allocation of ESL teachers for St. Mark's Junior School immediately to cater for the 230 International newcomer children expected to enrol there between now and September." ENDS

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