"Closing Rural Schools Would Be A Big Mistake" - Brolly
The Aontú representative for East Derry, Gemma Brolly, has slammed the Education Authority and Department of Education's latest announcement concerning the potential closure of a number of rural schools.
Ms Brolly, herself a school teacher, said:
"The latest announcement of the need to close rural schools and move pupils into larger schools in order to save money represents just one of a long series of blows to the future of Education in this country. We currently have ridiculously long waiting lists and even more preposterous ratios and allocations of Educational Psychology time to complete assessments, increasing numbers requiring additional support due to the last two years of COVID turmoil and increasing numbers of children now presenting with anxiety. Now is not the time for the Education Authority or the Department of Education to be talking about school closures".
Ms Brolly continued: "Our children deserve a high quality standard of education. They deserve a force of government bodies behind them moving heaven and earth to achieve this. We all know that students in small classes, with a smaller student / teacher ratio, tend to perform better in the education system. Small classes with smaller numbers of pupils are not a problem. It is absolutely insulting that while those on the front line of the sector are fighting for the survival of their schools for the sake of the children, the powers that be pose questions about closing schools and saving money, rather than throwing a lifeline to schools".
"We recently learned how the minister for Education returned £40,000 to the treasury and yet here we are cutting the life of our rural schools, risking the standard of education even further. We need fund education properly. We need to support our existing schools - particularly regarding provision of permanent learning support, given the fact that we are seeing an increase in the number of children with special needs in the North, year on year and especially given how appallingly children with special needs and their families have been treated throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Aontú will continue to hold our generations of children at the very heart of decision making and will work tirelessly, urging all governmental bodies to do the same. Closing rural schools would be a big mistake", concluded Ms Brolly.