Doyle calls for Forward Thinking Strategy for Schools:
James Doyle, a candidate in the local elections for Greystones, Kilcoole, Delgany and Newcastle, welcomes what he refers to as a “temporary measure of extra school spaces assigned to Kilcoole primary schools”. However, he also cautions “the underlying issue of bad planning in the area has not been properly addressed by the council in recent years”.
Parents on the doorsteps in Kilcoole and Charlesland are “furious about the complete mishandling and failure of planning in relation to schools locally”. A primary function of the council is that of planning for the future needs of the community. Doyle states that the council “got it completely wrong and have let down the parents and children here in our community. The developers were permitted to build thousands of family homes, but no-one in the council joined the dots and realized that the families in these homes would need local schools for their children”.
“I am shocked and alarmed that our representatives have not addressed this problem over the last decade. County councillors and local government officials must constantly analyse available demographic information to ensure that the required infrastructure is developed and the basic essentials of the community are met. Everyone makes mistakes, but failing to plan for a single additional school place when thousands of houses are being built and birth rates are sky-rocketing amounts to negligence. The council has failed in its primary duty to safeguard our community’s interests”.
As a solicitor, Doyle added that “a glaring omission like this would justifiably cost me, or anyone else in the private sector, their job. The community deserves a higher standard of performance from the council. Pointing fingers and placing blame is not constructive. Everyone must admit to past mistakes and work together to ensure that such grave errors never happen again. The next council must ensure that our children are no longer forced to leave their own town and travel long distances outside the community just to go to school”.
Wicklow has the largest proportion of children in class sizes larger than 30 in number. This is a most unfortunate and worrying development. One that should not be left masked by other statistical trends such as a relatively minor increase in the national average class size nor the Minister’s stated intention to provide a place for every child at primary school level.
No one doubts that spending ministers such as Quinn and his colleagues in Welfare (Burton) and Health (Reilly) have a difficult job caught between the penny-pinching terms of the Troika’s Bailout on the one hand and the invoices of paying for the ever-increasing needs of the young, unemployed, ill and ageing amongst us.
That’s fair enough. These are tough times.
What’s not fair, however, is ignoring the fact that counties such as Wicklow, Limerick and other urban-rural commuter belt areas are experiencing a greater disparity between education resources and need than other parts of the country.
It’s no surprise to me that the places where parents will see their children emerge from their first day of school with thirty others in the over-burdened teacher’s care are also experiencing higher population growth within the commuter belt. e.g. Fingal and Kildare.
Our county – and particular the Northern part of it – is one such place. In recent years we have witnessed steady population growth (8.1% between 2006 and 2011) and significant road expansion.
Clearly – as is the case in other counties – other investment and service initiatives fell behind. That’s something none of us are happy about. And while we may find it hard to accept we, should at least, understand the reasons why.
What is different and most worrying about education is that those primarily affected are only starting out in life – they have not cast a vote, incurred a parking fine nor purchased on credit.
Their future is not as bright as mine appeared to me (entering school in the late 80’s). Is it right, or even necessary, that their chances of making something of it be further prejudiced by a disparity in headcount so obvious on the numerical evidence we now have to hand?
In addition they – like the emigration-generation ahead of them – are the ones who will either commence or consolidate the process of getting Ireland back up on its feet. Do they not deserve as a bare minimum the benefit of a decent education to get on with that task when the time comes?
It starts in the classroom.
Do our sitting (Government party) councillors or deputies appreciate, or intend to do anything about, this?