Seanad Éireann - Volume 140 - 29 June, 1994
Adjournment Matters. - Cloyne (Cork) National School.
Mr. Sherlock Mr. Sherlock
Mr. Sherlock: Thank you, a Chathaoirligh, for giving me the opportunity of raising this important matter. I would also like to thank the Minister for coming to the House to listen to my contribution and hopefully to respond positively.
In the parish of Cloyne in Cork there are 18 slow-learning school children. To assist them achieve a good standard of primary education the manager and parents employed a resource teacher in October 1993 at their own expense. The children are happy and are doing well, which proves beyond doubt that they have benefited from the services provided by that teacher. The issue, therefore, is the application by the manager and parents to be allowed to retain the teacher by getting the sanction of the Minister, which I understand has not been forthcoming up to now.
It is difficult to understand this in view of the fact that it is so vitally important for the children's education. We are well aware that illiteracy is increasing in all areas at an alarming rate. This would not  be the case if the problem was addressed at primary level, but we will stick to my current point. The problem is compounded, however, when the manager of the school states that those children will have to go elsewhere if the services of the teacher are no longer provided. If that happens, the children will leave primary school and in later years they will be looking for the provision of literacy classes. I understand that if the resource teacher is not provided, the parents will have to travel, or provide transport, to Cork city. Some parents from that region have already had to do that and it is not fair. I appeal to the Minister to establish a dialogue with the chairman of the board of management so that a satisfactory solution to this problem will ensue. I thank you for giving me the opportunity of raising this matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach) Niamh Bhreathnach
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I am aware that the school in question has been seeking an allocation of additional teaching support from my Department for some time. However, I am also aware that the case made by the school has lacked consistency in terms of the nature of the teaching support being sought and the nature of the problem which it is intended to address. The school in question lost an assistant teacher to the panel at the end of the 1992/93 school year due to falling enrolments. The number of pupils attending this school had fallen from 170 at the end of the 1991/92 school year to 142 at the end of the 1993/94 school year. The school has been seeking to recover this position since that time.
Initially the school had sought the allocation of a remedial teaching post or a concessionary disadvantaged post. At the end of a meeting with my adviser at the end of 1993 it was explained to the school that no remedial or concessionary posts were available for allocation at that time. However, it was also indicated that the needs of the school would be considered when additional posts were being allocated in 1994. In 1994, some 100 additional remedial posts were allocated to primary schools with effect from September next. The needs of all applicant  schools, including Cloyne school, were considered in the context of this allocation. However, the needs of Cloyne school were not considered to be of such priority as to warrant an increase in their current level of remedial service on this occasion. The school already shares a remedial service with four other primary schools in its area. More recently the school shifted the focus of its request to that of seeking the allocation of a resource teacher.
In this connection I should first point out that resource teacher posts are only allocated in special situations to support ordinary teaching staff in meeting the needs of handicapped children attending ordinary classes. The role of the resource teacher in meeting the special needs of children with a handicap should not be confused with the role of the general remedial service. At present there are 13 resource teaching posts in place nationwide at primary level and their allocation is the result of detailed assessment of needs by my Department's inspectorate. My Department is currently considering the allocation of a limited number of additional resource teacher posts in the current year. These posts will be allocated on the basis of priority of need as identified by my Department's inspectorate and I can assure the Senator that the needs of Cloyne school will be fully considered in the context of this allocation. The appointment of further remedial and concessionary teachers will be kept under regular review and I can assure the Senator that the needs of Cloyne national school will be taken fully into account in this context.
Mr. Sherlock Mr. Sherlock
Mr. Sherlock: May I ask the Minister if I could have a copy of her speech and if she would meet the manager of the school board?
Seanad Éireann 140 Adjournment Matters. Cloyne (Cork) National School.