Mayo Fianna Fáil Deputy Dara Calleary has said there is a mounting threat to the future of small schools across Mayo as the Government continues to sit on a report which could determine their future. In response to questions from Fianna Fáil in the Dáil, the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn again refused to commit to a date for publishing the Value for Money review, which he has had since early this year.
Deputy Calleary explained: “Minister Quinn has been sitting on this report for about nine months now, while uncertainty looms over the future of schools with less than 85 pupils. This uncertainty is highly damaging, as parents will understandably be less likely to send their children to a local school whose future is in doubt.”
Dep Calleary continued: “It’s my suspicion that this is exactly what Minister Quinn wants. He is deliberately creating uncertainty over the future of small schools as part of a plan to squeeze them out. He has repeatedly cut resources for smaller schools and raised the pupil teacher ratio. It’s all part of a targeted attack aimed at forcing some small schools to merge or shut down entirely.”
Speaking about his fears for small schools in Mayo, Dep Calleary said: “Mayo will be particularly badly hit by this targeted attack. We have a high number of smaller schools here that cater for a vast geographical area. Many of these have already lost a teacher and have seen their resources cut and they now fear they could face closure. This is a policy by a Dublin based Minister who appears to have no understanding of the enormous value that a local school, however small, adds to a rural community. His attack on small schools makes no consideration of a school’s ethos, its catchment area, and the key role it plays in the local community. However, his colleagues the Government TDs here in Mayo, including the Taoiseach, should understand the serious impact that these cuts will have on our communities.”
Dep Calleary concluded: “I am asking the Government TDs here in Mayo to start standing up for Mayo schools and their communities. The Government must end this uncertainty, immediately publish the Value for Money review, and come clean about their plans in relation to small schools. Parents and staff of smaller schools throughout Mayo have a right to know where they stand.”