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Written Answers - Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 762 No. 1

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 21. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the extent to which he and or his Department have examined the impact of constraints imposed and arising from the memorandum of understanding with particular reference to the implications for smaller schools including those with a denominational ethos; if he can assist local school management authorities in this regard; if efforts have been made or are in train on such issues; if in conjunction with school authorities it has been found possible to identify the means to [144]minimise any anticipated negative effect on rural or urban communities; the extent to which each are likely to be affected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19455/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The 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.

A Value for Money examination of small schools has been carried out and my Department expects to publish the analysis and findings in the near future. I hope that this report will foster constructive engagement both in the Oireachtas and among all interested parties in looking at the challenges ahead and how best to make provision for primary education in rural and dispersed communities. How best to sustain provision for widely dispersed and small Protestant communities will present as a particular challenge particularly in any locality where enrolment in their schools is declining to single figures and amalgamation is not an option because there is no other school nearby. The Government is intent in fostering pluralism in school provision. Supporting minority churches in maintaining their schools is part of that policy and will inform how the Government approaches the outcome of the Value for Money Study.

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