Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Tuesday) welcomed the news that funding for fee-charging schools has been maintained in Budget 2014.
Deputy Mitchell O’Connor, who is the chair of the Fine Gael Internal Committee on Education which has worked extensively on this issue, went on to say that the protection of the pupil teacher ratios for primary schools at 28:1, DEIS schools at 18.25:1, post-primary schools at 19:1 and fee-charging schools at 23:1 is a victory for our children’s future learning.
“The decision to leave funding for fee-charging schools untouched in the Budget was the right one. Apart from the impact reducing funding for this sector would have on the school going population in certain areas, the reality is that a large number of parents with children who are attending fee-charging school are struggling to cope with costs, as a result of job losses and wage reductions in recent years.
“In some areas, such as Dun Laoghaire, there are simply not enough public school places to cater to the number of children in the area. As a result, some parents, who want their children to attend a local school, are left with no other choice than to stump up for a fee-charging education. In border areas, or for many minority faith families, ensuring that children can avail of an education of their choosing, means attending a fee-charging school is one of necessity. The argument that the bill to mitigate against any reduction in the State subvention for these schools would be picked up by the parents of the children attending them, fails to take account of the financial reality facing a huge number of these parents.
“Ensuring that parents have choices when determining what sort of school their children will go to is so important. Whether it is an Educate Together, a single or co-ed school, or a school with a particular religious ethos, it is essential that we continue to provide a range of options that do not unfairly financially penalise parents.
“Each year, as the Government attempts to undo the economic damage inflicted on the economy by Fianna Fáil, the Budget adjustment becomes increasingly challenging. Minister Noonan and Howlin, along with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and the Cabinet, have crafted a Budget that is fair and equitable, which aims to support job creation in the most effective way possible and allows for our successful exiting of the Troika bailout.
“I am delighted that, despite the fact an adjustment of €2.5 billion has to be taken out of the economy again next year, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn TD recognise the contribution fee-charging schools have made to fiscal consolidation in previous years and have maintained funding and the pupil teacher ratio at current levels.”
15 October 2013