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Councillor fears for rural schools in DEIS revamp

Councillor fears for rural schools in DEIS revamp

Anton McNulty

Disadvantaged schools in large parts of west Mayo face the prospect of losing teachers under government plans to vary the DEIS programme according to a Fianna Fáil councillor.
A number of schools in west Mayo come under the DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) programme which targets education disadvantage in rural areas. Under the new plans for the programme introduced by the Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn class sizes will be increased.
Achill based councillor, Michéal McNamara said that this will have an adverse affect on many rural schools who is says have been advised to ‘consider their future’ by the Minister and ‘assess their options for amalgamation’.
“The DEIS programme is the only scheme that targets educational disadvantage in rural Ireland. Now, many of these schools are set to lose teacher posts. In addition to this, the Government have decided to introduce phased adjustments to staffing levels for schools with one to four teachers. This will directly lead to school closures in smaller communities and larger class sizes in many other small primary schools,” he said.
This he says has caused real fears in many communities across the country, who could be set to lose their local primary schools under this plan. He feels that these cuts will have a direct impact on the students who are ‘the most vulnerable in our education system’.
“That disadvantaged schools and small rural schools have been singled out in this way is a disgrace. The Government had a series of choices to make in their Budget to achieve the necessary savings for next year. They chose to target vulnerable groups and rural communities for the bulk of the cutbacks, instead of asking those who could most afford it to play their part.
“All the Schools in the Achill, Ballycroy, Mulranny and Newport areas will be affected adversely by the budget changes and I intend to work to have these issues reviewed,” concluded Cllr McNamara.