This Government has protected education as much as it can. Far greater reductions in expenditure and in the number of public servants are being made in other sectors relative to those in schools. But there are limits to the level of expenditure on education and the number of teaching posts we can afford. The Budget 2012 measures in relation to the post-primary sector are set out in the documentation that was published by my Department last December. This envisages a net overall reduction of about 450 posts at post-primary level between the current school year and the 2012/13 school year. This net reduction in posts takes account of the impact of the budget measures, demographics and the budget decision to shelter all the DEIS post-primary schools through a reduced staffing schedule of 18.25:1.
My Department has published Circular 0009/2012 to inform all post primary school management and staff of the staffing arrangements for post-primary schools for the 2012/13 school year, including in particular, the requirements to manage guidance from within the standard allocation. The circular is available on the Department website. I want to re-assure the Deputy that all schools must continue to provide guidance to their pupils. However, from September 2012 guidance provision must be managed by schools from within their standard staffing allocation. Schools will have autonomy on how best to prioritise its available resources to meet its requirements in relation to guidance and the provision of an appropriate range of subjects to its students. Decisions on how this is done will be taken at school level and I am confident that schools will act in the best interest of students when determining precisely how to use the teaching resources available to them.