Wicklow’s small schools are being undermined by financial and staffing cuts, and some of them are threatened with closure and amalgamation.
I supported legislation this week aimed at protecting them, but the Government opposed it. This legislation (the Education Amendment Protection of Schools Bill 2012) sought to make educational planning in relation to small schools a long term exercise and not a knee jerk reaction. It sought to strengthen the rights of children and teachers in Wicklow’s small schools, and those around the country.
I have a personal reminder of the problems these families face hanging on the wall of my office thanks to parents and pupils who have sent postcards that illustrate their plight.
Small schools are the lifeblood of our rural communities. This legislation would have prevented the Minister for Education from effectively closing schools, through budget or staffing cuts, that are central to their community. The Government’s failure to support it is a missed opportunity to support our schools.