Calleary pledges to resist closure of small local schools

Small schoolsMayo Fianna Fáil Deputy Dara Calleary has said any attempt to force the amalgamation of small schools in Co Mayo must be resisted.

Deputy Calleary has raised serious concerns about the fresh threat to the future of small schools in Mayo and rural communities across the West of Ireland.

“It has been clear for some time that the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has an agenda to force the amalgamation of small rural schools.  My fear is that this will result in a number of small schools here in Mayo being forced to close and some communities in this region will inevitably lose their local school entirely,” said Deputy Calleary.

“There are now fears that more than 1,000 schools across the country with under 80 pupils or 3 teachers may face closure. This is a blind attack on small schools with no consideration of each school’s ethos, the standard of education it provides and its contribution to the community. In the vast majority of cases these schools provide an excellent standard of education and they play a central role in community life.

“This issue is causing great fear and distress among parents, children and teachers in small rural schools right across the region.  I have spoken to many local teachers and parents who are genuinely fearful that their school will soon be forced to close and amalgamate with a larger school in another community.

 

“I am urging the Government to clear up this matter once and for all.  The Cabinet is due to discuss a Value for Money Review on small schools shortly.   I am urging all Ministers sitting around that Cabinet table, including the Taoiseach and Minister Ring, to recognise the fact that this cannot be judged on monetary value alone.  The value of a local school is far more than what is taught in the classroom.  The local school is at the heart of community life and removing it will have enormous long-term consequences for the community as a whole.”