Donegal Education Training Board (ETB) welcomes the publication of the report and recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills (JOCES), on Off-Shore Island Schools, published today, 27 February 2018.
The report makes 8 recommendations, covering a range of issues, including:
- The reinstatement of the island allowance for teachers in island schools as an incentive for accessing and retaining teaching staff;
- Inadequate School Budgets – an annual increase of €20,000 per post-primary island school;
- Teacher Allocation – that the formula for teacher allocation be amended and increased to reflect the needs of off-shore island schools;
- Enrolment and Scholarship Schemes – that the Minister investigates the possibility of extending the scholarship scheme and removing the exclusion of Gaeltacht pupils from the eligibility criteria.
- That DEIS staff supports are extended to Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmada, Arranmore Island;
- That a specific policy to address the needs of island schools is drafted and implemented; and
- That a system of ‘island proofing’ be implemented for legislation, policies and initiatives produced by the DES in the future.
The recommendations of today’s report follow closely, and indeed, are similar to, the recommendations made by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and Islands in its report which was published in September 2017.
Donegal ETB’s Chief Executive Anne McHugh wishes to thank the Joint Committee on Education and Skills for inviting it to attend its hearing on 19 December 2017. Donegal ETB wishes to thank Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh for preparing the material in this report which ultimately enabled its publication today.
Donegal ETB would welcome a deputation from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and Islands and from the JOCES to its two island schools Colaíste Phobail Cholmcille, Tory Island and Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmada, Arranmore Island. It trusts that the Minister for Education and Skills will act on the recommendations of this excellent report and, by so doing, reverse the inequalities in the current system, for the future of all our island schools and their island communities.