LABOUR Party councillor John Maher has criticised the Department of Education after it was announced that St Patrick’s Girls NS in Gardiner’s Hill will lose a teacher effective immediately.
The Department of Education has made the decision due to the school not having enough pupils enrolled by September 30.
An appeal by the school to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board was refused. As a consequence of this, the primary school will now merge its two fourth classes. This new class will commence on Monday, November 16.
Mr Maher is bemused at the sudden nature of this decision by the Department of Education.
“It is the wrong decision,” he said.
“How a minister or department can reach this decision in November is very strange.
“This makes no sense as this teacher was already in place. Doubling class numbers is wrong and it is not good enough.
“This class will now go from 16 students to 32 which is too much. The school should not have to absorb that.
“This school is also a DEIS school, so there are also other issues to take into consideration.
“We should be limiting contacts. Increasing pod numbers goes against public health advice. I wonder sometimes does the department think schools exist in some make-believe land free from Covid-19? School teachers have done a great job in ensuring kids have gone back to school in a safe environment.”
The Labour councillor has said that Sean Sherlock TD will be making representations on this issue to Norma Foley, the education minister.
“There are too many anomalies,” said Mr Maher.
“Demographic decisions should be halted for one year, while school communities grapple with education during Covid. I hope the Government will look into this issue. We need to keep schools open, but we need to provide them with adequate numbers.”
Cork North Central TD Thomas Gould has also called on the Department of Education to intervene in staffing issues being experienced by a number of schools in Cork.
The Sinn Féin TD expressed his disappointment with the struggles schools are presently facing following a plethora of cuts in teaching numbers.
“I am in regular contact with schools in Cork North Central,” said Mr Gould. “We have to fight for everything. This is extremely worrying as it affects children. Some of these schools are severely struggling with staffing issues.”
A number of schools throughout Cork City have voiced their disappointment in recent weeks at the shortage of teachers and the overcrowding in classrooms this situation is creating.