Parents withdraw children from school in protest against 41 students in the classroom




Stock Photo: Getty
Stock Photo: Getty

Catherine Devine

Parents have withdrawn their children from a local national school after it appeared that up to 41 children would be taught in one classroom.

Concerned parents protested outside Scoil Bhríde in Menlo, Galway after it was announced that students from the 5th and 6th grade would be joined and taught by one teacher for the coming school year.

One parent of a 6th grade student told Independent.ie that at least 10 parents have taken their children out of school this week.

"Placing 41 children in a classroom with one teacher is not acceptable, it happened two years ago with the same children when they were combined in a 3rd and 4th class group and it was a disaster." There was so much noise in the classroom that the children could not concentrate, there was not enough room on the desks for the children, they had no room to open their books or to work comfortably, there was no room for all their bags and things in the class, about 38 of them were , but since then we have received more children.

"There was a tumult then and we were promised that the core subjects would be done separately and that only lasted a few weeks and then it was back for them all taught together in the same classroom." We were told that it would never happen again and here we are two years later. "

The mother added that the school again offered to teach the year groups separately for the core subjects English, mathematics and Irish for 15 hours per week.

"The pupils of the 5th grade sit in the library with the teacher for learning support and the pupils of the 6th grade will stay in the classroom with the teacher.

"At the moment this is the only compromise that we will get. We found out last Wednesday that there would not be two teachers, it was very heavy, it's my daughter from last year, so I really want her to be the year. get through well and go to high school and be ready with this school. "

The parent added that she was concerned about the teacher and said she would use a microphone in the classroom so that the children could hear her.

"It is a lot of pressure for a teacher and she is also a young teacher."

Another parent who had a child in the 6th grade said she had withdrawn her son from the class on Friday.

"It is chaos, many parents have withdrawn their children, there will be more in the coming days, I have withdrawn my son because we can no longer handle this, we have given the school too many opportunities to make this up."

Independent councilor for Galway City Central, Mike Cubbard, told Independent.ie that despite the high number of students, the school did not meet the requirements to get another teacher.

"The Ministry of Education based their teacher allocation on the figures from September 2017 onwards and the school consisted of eight pupils without a different teacher.There is an appeals procedure that can be done, but the school has not appealed.

"The school now has a call for another teacher, but because a number of children have left the school in recent days, the numbers have dropped, so the school is 12 or 13 numbers short, so I can not see that they are now a different teacher The children are the ones who have failed, they receive only 15 hours of separate support in the core subjects. "

Mr. Cubbard added that because some students have left, the class is likely to be in the high 30s.

"The number is likely to be lower than 41 now, but there should be no more than 24. You have 21 children who are preparing for confirmation and high school and two different cirriculums, it's not as if the children are all the same age. about the teacher, she is in the middle, she wants to teach the children, but it is very unfair to her. & # 39;

In the past few days Mr Cubbard said that the school has tried to find a solution for the big class.

"The school has reached a compromise offering 15 hours of support for the three core subjects of mathematics, English and Irish for the children, where they will be divided into two groups, 5th and 6th grade from 9:30 to 13:00.

"The children of the 5th grade enter the library with a teacher for learning support and the children of the 6th class stay in the classroom with the teacher.The teacher for learning support will act as teacher of the 5th class from those hours, but she may not in the classroom a full-time role There are three source teachers at school, so there are enough hours to make it work. "

Mr Cubbard said that after 13.00 hours the approximately 41 students met again in the core class until 2.30 pm when they went home.

"The school also said that they will do a full safety audit and the parents have accepted that Friday morning: A small number of parents, possibly four or five, have moved their children to another school, but the majority have reluctantly compromised."

A Menlo National School spokesman declined to officially comment on Independent.ie.

In a statement, the Ministry of Education said that the configuration of classes and the use of class teachers is decided by each school.

"The school authorities are requested to ensure that the number of pupils in a given class is kept as low as possible.The department also asks the school authorities to use their autonomy under the staff scheme to introduce smaller classes for junior classes, as far as feasible for this to do. "

The spokesman said that for the 2018/19 school year the staff plan at primary level works on a general average of 26 pupils for each teacher.

"Along with all the other primary schools, Menlo was assigned NS staff in accordance with Circuit 0010/2018, Staff Arrangements in Primary Schools for the 2018/19 school year, ie a main subject plus 7 classroom teaching posts based on an enrollment of 190 pupils. 3.32 teaching posts for special education. "

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