Cuts to the pupil teacher ratio in small rural schools

In Blog by Denis Naughten

Later today the Dáil will vote on cuts to the pupil teacher ratio in small rural schools.

I have highlighted this issue over the last number of weeks here and here but I believe that this letter I received from a parent highlights the real problems that parents in rural communities are now facing.

Of course these cuts are a self-fulfilling prophecy in that if the pupil teacher ratio in multi-grade classrooms are increased parents will move children to other schools and rural school numbers will drop disproportionately further.

Have a read for yourself:

31 Jan, 2012

Dear Mr Naughten,

I am writing to you to ask your advice on what is possibly one of the most important decisions I will ever make regarding my four children’s future. I have four children aged ten, eight, five and four. Three of them are attending ******* National School and the youngest girl **** is due to start school in September. With the cuts that came in the last budget the school is facing loosing a teacher. This will leave ******* N.S. a 2 teacher school, being one teacher to teach four classes. I don’t know what to do. Should I start **** in Junior Infants class in ******* National School in September, which will mean that she will be in a classroom with four classes to one teacher, if she is a good and bright girl she will be fine, but if she needs help or struggles at a subject she will be left behind, or, should I start her in a different school leaving her in a classroom with less pupils and with a teacher who would have more time to spend with her should she need assistance? It is not an option that I would have my children split up and go to two different schools, or would you consider this if this was your child? Should I move the other three children and the four children start in a different school in September, remembering that ******* who is eight is a very shy girl and finds it hard to mix and is comfortable in the school she attends? Not forgetting ****** aged ten and ***** aged 5 have started off in ******** National School, are doing very well, and are happy there.

This is the situation my husband and I are left to face if the school looses a teacher due to the cutbacks in the educational system. Might I suggest, if the plan is to amalgamate the country schools and have one purpose built “super school”, which will have one teacher per class, please put the plan in place and amalgamate together, rather than have the country schools dwindle out and in the process OUR children suffer while this dwindling is going on .

I look forward to a reply with whatever suggestions and advice you can give me as to what I should do next September.

Yours sincerely,

**** ******