Scríofa ag Eamon Ó Cuív Dé Luain, 02 Iúil 2012
In a reply to a Parliamentary Question put down by Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív for reply on the 26th of June 2012, he was informed by the Minister of Education Ruairí Quinn that it is intended to publish the value for money review on small primary schools at the earliest possible date, which the Minister expects will be shortly after the summer.
The Minister went on to say “I look forward to its completion and to discussing its outcomes and proposals with the members of the House. Publication of the review report will help to inform our decision-making in relation to small primary schools.”
I find it extraordinary that the Minister made a radical change to the pupil/teacher ratio in small schools over the next four years ahead of the completion and publication of this report. There can be no excuse for this and it confirms the fears of many people that the decisions made in relation to small schools at the last budget were made because of the preconceived view of the Minister rather than on any objective basis. The Minister should now withdraw the announcements made in the budget for 2012, pending the publication of this report and its discussion in the Houses of the Oireachtas.
When published, I believe the report should be referred to the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills for analysis and that having held hearings with the relevant stakeholders and the Department that the Committee should then prepare a response to the report for presentation to the Minister. The hearings should hear from the authors of the report, the Minister and his Department, parents, teachers, boards of management and community leaders as well as rural organisations etc.
In consideration of the report the personal and educational outcomes for the young students should be taken into account as well as national and European policies on rural development.