Limerick school upgraded one year ago loses a teacher

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

In 2011 all the classrooms in Scoil Chaitriona, Cappamore were renovated and a new PE hall opened.

In 2011 all the classrooms in Scoil Chaitriona, Cappamore were renovated and a new PE hall opened.

This November, one of those upgraded classrooms will cease to be used full-time for a class.

The school has lost one of those classroom teachers due to the Department of Education school number cut-off marks.

After tens of thousands of euros was invested in the school it has now gone from a four to a three classroom teacher school.

However, Barbara Sadlier, principal, says they know already that they have a very healthy enrolment of boys and girls commencing in September 2013.

“We are hoping to get back to four teachers but if we have the numbers then we will still have to wait until the following year [2014] before we can return to four classroom teachers.

“There is no flexibility. You have to be flexible working in a school and there is no give and take.

“The department rules don’t allow for that,” said Ms Sadlier.

“It is very unfair. If you are over the threshold on September 30 one year you have to wait until the following September with big numbers in the classes.

“We are hoping next year we will have enough but we will have another year of big numbers in the classrooms,” she added.

Currently they have 78 children.

The cut-off point was 85. In 2010, there were 91 children enrolled in Scoil Chaitriona.

The recession has been a major factor in this year’s reduction in numbers.

“It was just bad luck. Ten children have left the school because their parents have moved to other parts of Ireland or emigrated from the area. Some have gone to Australia,” said Ms Sadlier.

The teacher’s position finished on October 26 - just before the mid-term break.

Like many schools in similar situations it is going to mean bigger classrooms of children.

“Our current first and second class will be split.

“There will be three classes of junior infants, senior infants and first class all together; second, third and fourth class together and fifth and sixth.

“The biggest class will be 32 children,” said Ms Sadlier.

Despite teachers’ best efforts, bigger classes mean reduced time for each pupil.

“It is the children who need the most help that are going to be losing out,” said Ms Sadlier.

And with the Budget around the corner, the principal says it is a worrying time.

“What is going to happen next?

“Funding has been cut, resource hours have been cut, SNA hours are being cut where possible.

“It is very worrying,” she concluded.

Last November, the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dr Dermot Clifford blessed the new PE hall and the upgrading of the entrance lobby and of existing classrooms.

Hundreds attended the official ceremony in Cappamore to celebrate the building works and former principal, Maura Walsh, cut the ribbon.

The school was built in 1898 but inside it is state of the art.