As national schools across the county are facing uncertain times, Ballycloghan NS in south Longford will close its doors for the last time, after enrolments for the 2012/13 academic year failed to meet Department of Education & Skills criteria of pupil to teacher ratio.
Many more schools remain “hopeful” that by September next, they will have the number of pupils enrolled to ensure the employment of their current teacher allocation, while others are unable to determine at this point what situation they will be faced with when the new school year commences in just four months time.
“As a consequence of losing a teacher through the recent cuts, Ballycloughan NS was faced with continuing as a one teacher school,” a statement to the Leader this week explained. “On Thursday, May 24 last the Board of Management agreed that the school would be unable to continue as a one teacher school and it was decided – with regret – that the closure of the school was the most appropriate decision to make.”
The school, which was a two-teacher facility was reduced to just one teacher after pupil numbers at the school dropped to just 15. “The Board would like to thank all those for their loyalty and support and the parents’ unflinching efforts to keep the school open,” the statement continued. “Losing a school which provided a valuable service to the children of Ballycloughan for generations is a harrowing experience and despite the set-back, the loyalty of the children and the parents here, will continue to be with the parish, club and the local community.”
Meanwhile, in north Longford, Carmel Shaughnessy, principal Bunlahy NS, said the school would be able to retain its third teacher in September, but warned that there were major concerns for the following academic year. At nearby Kilasonna NS, Patricia Kilduff, principal. said that, at this stage, she “remained hopeful” that the third teacher at their school would be retained in September. “We won’t know until September if we have the numbers for our third teacher, but we remain hopeful that a post for a third teacher will be created at that stage,” she added.
In Edgeworthstown, similar sentiments were expressed. The acting principal of St John’s NS, Sandra Butler, indicated that while numbers for September 2012 had “met the criteria”, concerns for the following year were mounting. “We have 24 enrolments for September, so we are fine for this year,” she added. “But the same cannot be said for the following year and definitely we would have major concerns going forward.”
A protest to highlight rural national school closures and pupil teacher ratio reductions was scheduled to take place last Saturday in Dublin. However, the event was postponed at the last minute. The Leader understands that this protest will now take place in July, with a date yet to be confirmed.