Principals issue stark new warning on looming meltdown

Marie O’Shea, principal at St John the Baptist Primary School, Belleek

IN AN unprecedented move a total of 39 principals from schools across the county have put their names to a hard-hitting statement warning the public that there is a crisis looming because of cuts in the education sector.
“Our classrooms are in crisis…schools are struggling to cover a basic curriculum,” the public statement read.
To make up the shortfall in the budgets for essential resources, more schools are completing lengthy application forms from other funding bodies to plug the gaps, and asking parents to foot the bill of basic pupil needs.
It is feared that the current crisis may lead to the redundancies of teaching staff and support staff such as classroom assistants. This will mean bigger class sizes, more composite classes and split year groups.
Marie O’Shea, secretary of the Fermanagh Primary Principals Group who endorsed the letter writes, “More and more classrooms will have 30 or more pupils as the norm. This will also be the reality for larger schools which may not have had this set-up in the past. Larger class sizes will have a negative impact on the quality of education provision for children.”
A primary concern is the impact that these restraints are having on those pupil who have special educational needs as classroom assistant hours have also been reduced in an attempt to cut costs.
The letter states that parents are increasingly being asked to stump up to cover costs of consumable resources such as copy books, pencils, glue sticks and many other items, while some schools have already introduced a capital fee to gather school funds.
“Our ‘quality’ education system is also becoming more reliant on parents to fund educational visits, transport costs and heating and lighting costs in the most extreme circumstances.”
The Fermanagh Primary Principals Group call on parents to lobby elected representatives at both Council and Assembly level to work for the re-establishment of a fully functioning Executive which can work with Government departments to develop a financial package which fully reflects the needs of all children.
“Our children’s future depends on it,” they said.




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