Annual figures released today show that the Educate Together sector is continuing to develop apace. Rights-based education is becoming available to more parents and children in spite of the difficulties experienced in obtaining State support for the sector.
In September 2003, there were 4,901 pupils enrolled in the 31 Educate Together schools. This reflects a total increase of 487 children and an increase of three schools. Correspondingly the number of classes has risen by 18 to a total of 182. In the past year there have been 60 additional teaching posts created including resource, language support and other posts and an additional 34 Special Needs Assistants. An indication of the rapid recent growth of the sector is shown by ratio of junior infants to 6th class pupils. There are now almost twice as many children entering the sector as leaving it, indicating continued healthy growth for years to come.
Regarding accommodation, 13 of the Educate Together schools are in permanent premises. Four of these schools have won architectural recognition for the design quality of their buildings. The eighteen remaining schools are using a variety of temporary accommodation and are engaged in ongoing talks with the Department of Education and Science to obtain permanent accommodation.
Financing schools continues to be a major concern. The State continues to only contribute €111 per annum per pupil in a capitation grant. This amount is supposed to cover insurance costs for schools. Educate Together schools in permanent buildings have to pay on average €8,627 per annum or €36 per pupil. This has significantly increased this year and leaves Board of these schools seeking an average ‘top-up’ through fundraising of €30,333 or €130 per pupil.