Dáil Éireann - Volume 673 - 29 January, 2009

Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on a request for additional teaching staff for a school (details supplied); his further views on the need for increased resources for this school; if he will commit to giving this school the supports it needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2833/09]

  Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: The 2009 Budget required difficult choices to be made across all areas of public expenditure. These decisions were made to control public expenditure and to ensure sustainability in the long run. In this respect Education, while protected to a much greater extent than most other areas of public expenditure, could not be totally spared. The various impacts at school level in relation to both staffing and [156] grant levels were included in the Budget day announcements. Even with the budget measures in place there will still be a significantly increased borrowing requirement in 2009.

My Department will be advising individual schools in the normal way in relation to their staffing allocations. The staffing schedule will be published and it is a transparent and clear way of ensuring that schools are treated consistently and fairly and know where they stand. The preparatory work for staffing allocations has commenced with the processing of enrolment data that has been received from schools. The staffing allocation processes including notification to schools will commence shortly. The allocation process includes appellate mechanisms under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The final allocation to a school is also a function of the operation of the redeployment panels which provide for the retention of a teacher in an existing school if a new post is not available within the agreed terms of the scheme.

Within the terms of the staffing arrangements for primary schools there is provision for additional posts, referred to as developing school posts, to be assigned to schools on the basis of projected enrolments for the next school year. Under these arrangements, a developing school post may be sanctioned provisionally where the projected enrolment at 30th September of the school year in question equals or exceeds a specified figure. If the specified figure is not achieved on 30th September, sanction for the post is withdrawn. Once the staffing schedule for the academic year 2009/10 is published schools meeting the criteria for developing status may submit applications for an additional post(s) to the Primary Payments Section of my Department.

At this time the priority for my Department within the resources available to it is to carry out the allocation process in a timely manner. Diverting resources in order to create a staffing profile for the school referred to by the Deputy could not be justified and would in fact impede the process.