Minister’s U-turn on DEIS a victory for People Power but he should not press ahead with other cuts

Richard Boyd Barrett TD, United Left Alliance, education spokesperson today welcomed the government climb down on the proposed cuts to DEIS schools.

The Minister for Education has been forced into a total climb down over the so-called legacy posts in DEIS schools. It constitutes a massive victory for teachers and parents in areas served by DEIS schools. By mobilising in such great numbers to protect their children’s education, they exposed the incompetence of the Minister and the lack of forethought with which decisions are taken that can potentially devastate lives. Austerity and slashing Budgets takes precedent over justice and fairness. Yet again the interests of bondholder bailouts is a prioritised over the needs of our children and our education system as a whole. Rather than abandoning his intention to implement savage cuts on education completely, the Minister has just shifted the cuts elsewhere.

While DEIS legacy posts have been restored, many non-DEIS schools will lose badly needed resources. The changes to the General Allocation Model and EAL will mean loss of posts and teaching hours for many schools, there’s little in the Minister’s announcement for small schools who face savage cuts and the cuts announced in the capitation grant will have a major impact in schools across the country. Without increased investment in support roles in schools, the Minister cannot expect to build on improvements in literacy and numeracy in our schools. Schools themselves have initiated highly successful programmes like Power Hour and Reading Recovery and teachers have been very clear that all these programmes will be put in jeopardy by cutting staffing. The huge meetings by teachers and parents in small schools across the country are a clear indication that education will remain a huge issue for the foreseeable future.

Speaking on the issue Richard Boyd Barrett TD said, “Labour backbenchers who supported the December Budget should hang their heads in shame for supporting these cuts. They were all elected on a platform to defend education and yet at the first test leant their names to tearing apart the already underfunded education infrastructure. This u-turn is a huge testament to people power. It is an example to every ordinary person to stand up and fight when you believe something is wrong.”

“While in opposition, Minister Quinn was very vocal in condemning the appalling attacks by the last government on special needs. Now in government he is pulling resources from schools with children who need them most. “ “It is appalling that reversals in one area, for which Ruairi Quinn and many Labour backbenchers are seeking praise, comes at the expense of lighting, heating and resourcing schools. The cut in the capitation grant will leave already cash strapped schools facing real difficulties in meeting their daily running costs.

“The United Left Alliance commits itself to supporting and fighting alongside those who want educational equality for all, and we will do all in our power to help retain schools at the centre of all communities, whether urban or rural. Minister Quinn has already admitted he got it wrong on one issue. Its time he admitted the other mistakes in Budget 2012 and rectified them.”

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