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Loss of 50 teachers ‘a threat to viability’ of Gaelscoils

December 13, 2010

The loss of teachers in dozens of Gaelscoils will create larger classes and make all-Irish primary schools less viable, it has been claimed.

The national recovery plan revealed last month that favourable staffing levels for Gaelscoils, particularly smaller ones, would be ended. But details outlined after Tuesday’s budget show that the number of additional teaching posts to be lost is 50, significantly more than had been expected. Many of the schools will lose two teachers and Gaelscoileanna, which represents all-Irish schools outside the Gaeltacht, said it will put Irish language schools under serious threat. The extra teaching posts apply to Gaelscoils with between 76 and 257 pupils, meaning, for example, that a Gaelscoil needs 153 children to appoint a sixth teacher but an ordinary primary school needs 173. Almost 150 primary schools outside the Gaeltacht teach entirely through Irish, and the number of pupils attending them has grown by over 10,000 to more than 31,000 in a decade.

“These favourable arrangements were to help develop our schools which usually start out very small and are usually in unsuitable accommodation for the first five to 10 years,” said Gaelscoileanna president, Micheál Ó Broin. He is principal of Gaelscoil Chnoc na Ré in Sligo town, one of dozens which will lose staff next year as a result of the move by Tánaiste and Education Minister Mary Coughlan. The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said the smaller classes took account of the fact that Irish is not the language spoken at home for most Gaelscoil pupils. “Many of the teachers who lose their jobs will be in limbo because, although the Croke Park agreement rules out compulsory redundancies, many all-Irish schools are not covered by redeployment arrangements. A number of principals will also have to go back as full-time teachers because of the posts being cut,” an INTO spokesperson said. “Government politicians have never wasted a chance to stress their complete support for Irish-language education and recognised the fundamental role played by Irish-medium schools in developing and promoting the language. Those who vote for this cutback will effectively now say the opposite.”

The cut to Gaelscoil staffing is among a range of measures that will see 1,230 teaching posts withdrawn from schools next autumn. Other affected services include schemes to improve education for Travellers, students at risk of dropping out, children whose first language is not English and rural schools in disadvantaged areas.

Irish Examiner – Niall Murray
10 Nollaig 2010