Residents on Inis Meáin are hopeful that the island’s national school will have a second teacher when it reopens for the academic year in September, following a meeting with public representatives in Dublin yesterday.
A group of parents, teachers, and other islanders travelled to Dublin yesterday to meet TDs and senators and highlight the precarious situation at the school, which has had only one teacher since 2012 when pupil numbers fell to just six.
Scoil Náisiúnta Inis Meáin will have nine pupils when it reopens in September, ranging in age from four to 13, with children in all classes from junior infants to sixth class.
The lack of a second teacher at the school meant that all children had to be taught in one room by the principal, who was required to cover the curriculum across eight different classes, as well as provide lunchtime supervision.
Islanders had warned that the lack of adequate teaching resources put the island in danger of depopulation, as parents might face the prospect of moving to the mainland for the sake of their children’s education.
Inis Meáin has a population of 150, and the school’s nine children come from six families. Though the island is in the Gaeltacht a number of the children do not speak Irish, and one child does not have fluent English or Irish. The island’s only school does not have the option of amalgamating with another school due to its location.
Following yesterday’s meeting with local representatives, a spokesperson for the group said they were optimistic that a second teacher would be appointed at the school before the new academic year begins in September.