Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

U-turn made over cuts to schools

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has cut the number of legacy posts to be axed in Deis schools to 193

The Government has been forced into a U-turn over cuts to disadvantaged schools with more than half the original redundancies proposed being retained.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn announced in Cabinet that only 193 so-called legacy posts in Deis schools are to be axed - 235 positions less than anticipated in the 2012 Budget.

He revealed he is to finance this by reducing capitation grants to all schools across the primary system.

"I admit that we got it wrong," said Mr Quinn. "You get it wrong sometimes, we make mistakes and I accept we got it wrong."

Disadvantaged schools have teachers in so-called legacy posts, which refer to additional staff appointed for a specific shortfall in the school such as home teaching and language. The schools were allocated the legacy posts before the Deis system was introduced in 2005 and have managed to retain them since, owing to an extreme need for the extra resources.

"I reflected on the impact on those schools, the socio-economic background of the cuts and the families, and I've reversed that decision," Mr Quinn went on. "I'm financing that cost by reducing the capitation grants to primary schools."

Sean Cottrell, director of the Irish Primary Principals' Network (IPPN) which represents 3,350 primary school leaders, rejected the review and said it was an attempt to rob Peter to pay Paul.

"The Government's so-called concessions on restoring posts for some Deis schools are to be off-set by a further cut in cash income for schools, leaving many of them unable to pay for basic utilities such as heating and lighting," he said. "(It's) a bit like moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic."

Sheila Nunan, general secretary of the INTO, welcomed the move and said most of their concerns have been met: "The decision to cut these in the budget was misguided and needed to be reworked. We acknowledge that the minister has now reversed the severe cuts."

Deis Action Committee has described the U-turn as "a lifeline" to disadvantaged children. Peter McCabe, who is also a principal at St Columbanus National School in Loughlinstown, said the news was very welcome.

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