Denis Naughten has asked the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh TD, to look at the pupil numbers needed to retain teachers in light of the fact that a number of small schools across Roscommon and Galway are set to lose a teacher.
Following a meeting this week with representatives of the INTO, Deputy Naughten has sought to have the pupil numbers required for the retention of a teacher reduced. “Teacher losses are disproportionately hitting rural schools across county Roscommon and East Galway,” stated Denis Naughten.
“A local INTO survey of teachers has indicated that up to one in four schools in our area could be faced with the loss of a teacher from next September.
“On top of this we are seeing small rural schools under threat of closure. These small schools are valued by parents and are at the heart of the communities they serve. We have to do all in our power to retain them where we have the support of parents.
“At present there is a one size fits all approach from the Department of Education which fails to look at unique challenges facing specific schools, particularly small rural schools. In light of this approach we need to look again at the pupil thresholds for getting an extra teacher and retaining a teacher, particularly where there is more than one class in a classroom.
“Prior to the recession we needed 12 pupils for a second teacher, 48 pupils for a 3rd teacher, and 80 pupils for a 4th teacher. The failure to address this will see less teacher time being available for each pupil. This lack of individual attention means that teachers cannot respond immediately to children’s particular learning needs,” concluded Deputy Naughten.