Fianna Fail TD Eugene Murphy has said immediate action is needed to address overcrowded classes at primary school level while he noted that many rural schools are teetering on the brink of survival because of previous cuts.
Eugene Murphy was speaking following his recent attendance at the INTO’s briefing on ‘Stand up for Education’ campaign with County Roscommon INTO representative Hugh Lynn.
“Budget 2017 will be a litmus test for this government’s commitment to reversing the destructive decisions which saw primary education taking the brunt of cuts over the last five years.
Now more than ever, we need a thoughtful, creative education system, directed by dedicated and devoted teachers to guide our country forward. Teachers and school leaders, who have been hobbled by recent cuts, have to be given back the resources and confidence they need to provide the next generation with the education they deserve.
At primary level, we need to ease pressure on massively overburdened classrooms, provide adequate capitation funding for schools, restore school leadership and middle management, fix school infrastructure and ICT while reducing, and eventually eliminating, the need for parents and guardians of pupils to pay voluntary contributions to keep the school gates open," said Deputy Murphy.
The Fianna Fail TD said that class sizes in many counties are at their highest rate in recent memory. “Many of the youngest students in primary school are being taught in super-size classes of 30-40 pupils. This is typical of the government’s penny-wise, pound foolish approach to education. The average class size in Ireland is 25 pupils which is, greater than the European average of 21. As a first step, to ease the burden on schools with ‘super-sized’ classes, Fianna Fáil are committed to reducing class sizes significantly over the term of government, reaching an average class size of a maximum of 23 pupils,” said Deputy Murphy.
“On the brink of survival”
The Fianna Fail TD also said that the government’s cuts to the school staffing ratio in smaller schools must be reversed. “Many of these schools are teetering on the brink of survival because of the punitive measures and cuts contained in the last four Budgets. However the Government remains indifferent to these schools and those of the rural communities they serve. I would like to see increased support for small rural schools allowing communities to regain confidence in their viability,” concluded Deputy Murphy.