News & Media

Schools need commitment that they will be resourced properly when reopening

30 May 2020

Statement by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
Spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade

Labour Party Education spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has called for the Government to commit to financing the resources needed to enable schools to return safely.

This comes as the Minister for Education said that no additional financial resources have been yet allocated to schools to aid them in reopening.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“Why is education such a low priority for Government during this Covid-19 crisis?

“We have seen a plethora of mixed messages on education in the last three months from the Leaving Cert, re-opening of schools and now on whether additional resources will be made available to allow schools to open safely in the coming months. This is not good enough.

“Why are we not front-loading resources to ensure that schools will have adequate staffing levels and that they will be enabled to physically conduct lessons in a safe manner to all students?

“I have been contacted by schools who have been informed by the Department of Education in the last few weeks that their staffing allocation will be reduced in the coming academic year, rather than remaining as is or increased. Schools should not be losing teachers at a time when we may have to have smaller classes in place.

“Schools need clarity on what is going to happen in September as soon as possible as if they need to reconfigure classrooms, plan for extra sanitation measures or order PPE, they need as much time as possible but more importantly they will need financial support from Government.

“There is a real concern amongst school leadership teams that there will be a drop in students returning to schools in September. The Department of Education needs to have the foresight to invest in home school liaison and pastoral care initiatives to ensure that those who need our education system the most, return to school in September.

“We need to see strong political leadership from the Minister for Education - our education system particularly at primary and secondary level when students are at their most formative years cannot be left to flounder financially because of poor financial decision making by Government. 

“If the Government truly cared about students, teachers and parents they would give a firm commitment to ensure that schools can reopen safely in September with adequate staffing numbers.”