Teachers’ allowances should be reinstated and school budgets increased for island schools - Education Committee report

The allowance for teachers in island schools be reinstated to recognise the additional pressures and constraints of the role and school budgets should be increased by at least €20,000 for each post-primary secondary school on an offshore island, to reflect the actual running costs of that school, according to a new report on island schools by the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills.

Other recommendations include:

•    That the formula for teacher allocation on island schools be amended and numbers
increased to reflect the unique needs of island schools

•    That the Minister investigates the possibility of extending the scholarship scheme for
island schools and removing the exclusion of Gaeltacht pupils from the eligibility criteria, including liaising with cabinet colleagues where necessary to make this possible

•    That independent school status be granted to Coláiste Naomh Eoin, Inis Meáin

•    That DEIS status to be awarded to the five post-primary island schools

•    That a specific policy to address the needs of island schools is drafted and implemented

•    That a system of ‘island proofing’ be implemented for legislation, policies and initiatives produced by the Department of Education and Skills in the future

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, report rapporteur said: “Island schools have a unique and crucial role in maintaining the fabric of their communities. The retention of vibrant school communities with appropriate resources is essential to maintaining the overall sustainability of our offshore islands. These islands are a very important part of our rich heritage and culture and are rightly promoted as an important asset for us as a nation.

The recommendations in this Report, which we call on the Minister for Education and Skills to implement, will help to ensure the viability of these schools. The recommendations are specific to island schools. They would not constitute any substantial outlay for the department in the context of its overall budget allocation. Some are merely minor changes to policy which are small in the overall scheme of things, but would ensure major improvements in the sustainability of these schools.”

Committee Chair Fiona O’Loughlin, TD said: “Island schools face a particular set of challenges and difficulties due to their geographic and remote location. The Joint Committee on Education and Skills agreed to appoint Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh as Rapporteur on this topic and adopted this Report which aims to address and alleviate the concerns of island schools and to ensure that the education provided to pupils is of as high a standard as that found in any other mainland school. Pupils or staff in island schools should not find themselves disadvantaged either as a result of being located in an island school.”

Read the report here.

Media Enquiries:

Ciaran Brennan,
Communications Unit,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2.

P: +353 1 6183903
M: +353 86 0496518
Email: Ciaran.brennan@oireachtas.ie
Twitter: @OireachtasNews

Further details on the Committee: