39 Roscommon schools under threat of losing teacher – Naughten

In Families by Denis Naughten

A total of 25 schools throughout County Roscommon could be set to lose a teacher under changes introduced by the Minister for Education within the next two school years, local TD Denis Naughten has claimed.

This projection is based on an analysis by Denis Naughten of local school enrolment figures for the year 2010/11, which if replicated in the current school year, would see teacher numbers reduced in nine out of 20 schools throughout County Roscommon.

In addition, a further 14 schools will also lose a teacher if their overall pupil numbers drop by up to five pupils between September 2011 and September 2013.

“A drop in numbers enrolled of five pupils could easily occur due to the changes to school transport rules to be introduced next September or even due to emigration,” stated Denis Naughten. “While a number of these schools are designated as disadvantaged by the Department of Education they will still face the loss of a teacher even though the Minister for Education backed down on cuts to disadvantaged schools in urban areas.

“By 2013 rural schools will need 20 pupils to retain two teachers, 56 pupils to retain three teachers and 86 pupils to retain four teachers. The fact is that this will leave a number of small rural schools struggling to survive.

“Rural schools are a vital element in rural life, being the heart of the local community. They not only educate the local children but the schools also contribute to social and cultural life and act as a force to retain and attract families into an area. These schools are crucial to the fabric of many rural communities.

“Rather than trying to close rural schools by the back door, any policy changes relating to small schools must be considered not just in view of the cost of maintaining small schools but also in terms of the impact of school closures on local communities, parental choice and the additional school transport costs,” concluded Denis Naughten.