4 Jul 2019, 11.00
Easing the financial burden on parents of ever increasing school costs, is among the calls made today by the Joint Committee on Education and Skills, as it launches a suite of new reports.
The three new reports, which are being launched today, Thursday, 4th July in the AV Room, Leinster House are:
- Education inequality & disadvantage and Barriers to Education;
- Committee’s examination of School Costs, School Facilities and Teaching Principals; and
- The Interim Report on the Committee’s Examination on the Current Use of Reduced Timetables.
The School Costs, School Facilities and Teaching Principals report makes 25 recommendations in total, including a call for:
- Increased funding for schools so all children have access to a high quality, free and inclusive primary and secondary education.
- The introduction of non-badged generic uniforms including sports and gym gear.
- A paid panel of substitute teachers to provide cover one day per week to give principals sufficient cover to with their administrative workload.
- An inventory of school accommodation to assess what stock is available to the department.
Committee chairperson Fiona O’Loughlin TD said: “The Committee agreed to hold a series of meetings during last summer’s recess to examine several linked topics for the report. The final part of the summer hearings sought to examine the phenomenon of ever increasing school costs. This engagement heard of the variety of added costs associated with what purports to be a free education.
“The Committee recognises the financial burdens placed on parents and schools and this report seeks to remake recommendations to the Minister for Education and Skills to ease this burden.”
The Interim Report on the Committee’s Examination on the Current Use of Reduced Timetables makes 17 recommendations including:
- Strict monitoring of the use of reduced timetables
- A Department of Education audit on the application or limited and reduced timetables for traveller children.
- Reduced teacher-pupil ratio for children with special serious medical needs.
The report said evidence to the Committee suggests, that in some cases, the use of shorter school hours for some children may not be solely child centred. Deputy O’Loughlin said while the Committee’s hearings on reduced timetables were very productive, “it was unsettling to listen to witnesses speak about their experiences”
Deputy O’Loughlin said: “Apart from the educational development of young people social, social development is very important so that in schools we have the holistic development of children with their peers. The Committee accepts that in some instances, a reduced timetable is better than expulsion or suspension.”
The Education inequality & disadvantage and Barriers to Education report makes 44 recommendations to address education inequality and disadvantage within the education system. The report calls for:
- The introduction of guidance for all teachers on the challenges experienced by vulnerable groups.
- Education programmes for prisoners to be developed and expanded.
- A requirement for all DEIS schools to participate in evidence based programmes which support attainment and progression.
Senator Lynn Ruane who was Rapporteur for the report said: “This report aims to highlight the structural relationship between socio-economic disadvantage and inequalities in access to quality education. In light of the benefits equal access to education provides to groups who experience high instances of poverty and other forms of social disadvantage, we need a system that increases participation in primary, secondary and post-primary education among these groups, particularly those with traditionally low rates of participation.”
Deputy O’Loughlin acknowledged the “significant effort” Senator Ruane, as Rapporteur put into bringing the report on education disadvantage and inequality forward.
“All three of the reports published today are part of the Committee’s work programme. And on behalf of the Committee I would like to thank the stakeholders who attended hearings, or gave detailed and practical submissions or made recommendations on how the issues discussed across all of the reports might be addressed,” Deputy O’O Loughlin added.
The full reports are available to access from 11am here