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Written Answers - School Staffing

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 233.  Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding small schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16822/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As part of the Budget decisions announced, the number of pupils required to gain and retain a teaching post in small primary schools will be gradually increased between September 2012 and September 2014. The schools concerned are those with four or less classroom teachers. The phasing of these measures can provide the schools concerned with time to consider the potential for amalgamation with other schools where this is feasible. If amalgamations take place, they will be voluntary and follow decisions taken by local communities and not by my Department.

This Government recognises that small schools are an important part of the social fabric of rural communities. They will continue to be a feature of our education landscape. However, this does not mean that small schools can stand still or never have their staffing levels changed to something that is more affordable and sustainable for these difficult and challenging times. The teachers in small schools cannot be immune from the requirement that is being asked of all public servants to deliver our public services on a reduced level of resources.

My Department has expanded the existing appeals process so that it is accessible to the 73 small schools that are losing a classroom post as a result of the budget measure. These schools will not lose their classroom post if any of them are projecting increased enrolments in September 2012 that would be sufficient to allow them to retain their existing classroom posts over the longer term. The detailed arrangements are set out in the Department’s Staffing Circular that is now published on my Department’s website. The closing date for submission of appeals for the April meeting of the Staffing Appeals Board was 23 March, 2012. The Appeals Board meeting will take place on Wednesday 18 April, 2012 which will be prior to the release of the main redeployment panel and allow for any impact of the Board’s decision on redeployment panels to be effected.

The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

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