Educate Together warmly welcomes the appointment of the new Minister for Education and Skills, Norma Foley TD. Educate Together’s CEO Emer Nowlan congratulated the new Minister on her appointment:
“We look forward to working with Minister Foley to support and improve our education system, not least in the urgent challenges she faces in securing the necessary resources to ensure that all schools can open safely this September. It is a serious concern that schools do not yet have the clarity and additional resources they need to welcome children back in eight short weeks’ time. This is especially important for our most vulnerable children. We look forward to working with Minister Foley, her Department and all the education partners in the coming weeks to agree concrete plans to open the doors of our schools safely.”
With Minister Foley’s background as a teacher, she will be keenly aware of the complex issues facing schools as they work to ensure children and staff can return in September in as safe a way as possible. These issues are particularly stark for new and developing schools, who face additional challenges posed by temporary accommodation and fluctuating student numbers. On that front, Educate Together is encouraged by Minister Foley’s recent call for additional teacher allocations:
“We now have a situation where staffing arrangements for the coming term were set out before the onset of COVID-19. We are hearing reports of the necessity of smaller class groups and difficulties around social distancing due to classroom size, all the while schools are losing teachers. This is simply not workable and shows a clear disconnect between the two positions. We need to ensure a safe environment for our children once classes resume, and under the current guidelines we will need more not fewer teachers.”
Beyond these urgent challenges, Educate Together is also looking forward to working with the coalition Government, and with parliamentarians from across the 33rd Dáil, to advance the all-important cause of educational equality in this country.
Educate Together welcomes the commitments in the Programme for Government to expand the plurality of schools in Ireland to reflect the full breadth of society and to open ‘at least 400 multi-denominational primary schools by 2030 to improve parental choice’.