independent

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Budget has set education back ten years, says Gorey principal

FINTAN LAMBE

THE BUDGET cutbacks will set education back 10 years, says the principal of Gorey Community School, Michael Finn.

' There has been an overall reduction of 5 per cent in our capitation grant, which will make a difference to what we can provide here in the school,' he said. 'It will hit us very hard. We depend on that money for our basic upkeep. It might not have an impact this year, but it will have an impact in future years.'

He added that the withdrawal of certain resource teachers, such as those for members of the Travelling community, will also have a negative impact. 'Members of the Travelling community have specific needs and need particular supports. The withdrawal of resource teachers will have an impact on that.'

' The same goes for the withdrawal of language support teachers,' he added, explaining that children whose first language isn't English, often need language support, especially when it comes to learning Irish. 'If they want integration into Irish society, they need to keep those resources in place. It's very shortsighted,' said Mr. Finn.

He added that the increased fees for school transport will hit a lot of families. 'A lot of families are just getting by,' he said. ' This week we're having the annual food appeal for St Vincent de Paul. This year it's even more important than ever. There are a lot of families out there not looking for luxuries, they are looking for the basics.'

He added that the cap on special needs assistants in schools will see some students disadvantaged. 'Special needs assistants have become a vital part of the infrastructure of the education system,' he said.

He said the cuts to resource teachers, language support and SNAs are all steps backward. 'I think we're really going back 10 years,' he said. 'Primary and secondary education has been hit quite hard in this Budget.'

He said that the reduction in the allocation for the national educational psychological service is capping a service where the funding was already 'disastrously low'. ' The number of psychologists available does not go near meeting the demand already,' he stated.

He added that the increase in the third-level registration free will also hit hard. 'Education should be seen as a way out of the economic doldrums,' he said. ' We should ensure we have a strong educated workforce, and by hitting education, they are hampering the chances of recovery, and I feel very angry about it.'

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