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School crux to cause ‘survival of the fittest’

Dara Bradley



Children of a city primary school face a ‘September of chaos’, and their parents face a ‘Summer of uncertainty’, if the impasse over plans to amalgamate two classes isn’t resolved, a city councillor has said.

Sinn Féin’s Mark Lohan called on Government to allocate an extra teacher to Scoil Bhríde in Menlo in order to avoid an “unacceptable” amalgamation of fifth and sixth class for 2018/2019.

In last week’s Galway City Tribune, parents of children in the school blasted as “absolutely ridiculous” the suggestion that they each should pay €550 to fund an extra teacher.

They expressed shock and outrage that the amalgamation from next term would result in 41 pupils having just one teacher between them. And the school only informed them of the move two days before the school term ended in June.

Cllr Lohan has backed the parents. “The request for parents to fund a teacher by paying the school a €550 fee is both unreasonable and inappropriate. It is wrong on all fronts for parents to fund a teacher’s salary.

“Having 41 children in a multi-grade class is a retrograde step and is reminiscent of the enormous classes of a bygone era in the 60s and 70s. Fifth and Sixth class are particularly formative years for our children as they prepare for post primary education. These years will determine not only their academic future but their ability to lead productive and independent lives.

“Our children deserve the best opportunity to develop their full potential and obstacles should not be put in their way. Survival of the fittest should not be the standard for the pupils of fifth and sixth class in Scoil Bhríde, Menlo,” he said.

Cllr Lohan said the status of Scoil Bhríde as a Scoil sa Ghaeltacht has had no bearing on this current crisis. In fact, it is a direct result of this status that the school benefits from preferential appointment and retention figures for pupil teacher ratio.

He added a solution needs to be found before September. “An appeals mechanism is available to secure an extra teacher and the school must, as a matter of urgency, initiate this process. The EU average for class size is 20 pupils per teacher. Government has to address this short-coming and make a reduction in class size a priority,” said Cllr Lohan.

Liam Ferrie, chairperson of the Board of Management of the school, pointed out that prior to 2012, like most other rural schools, Scoil Bhríde had split classes for every level and two or more levels were being taught together by the same teacher in the same classroom.

“This is a common necessity in a smaller school where pupil numbers do not allow for separate classes at all levels,” he said.

He said the “real news story” was a “good news” for Scoil Bhríde because it has enjoyed increased enrolment in its junior infant classes since 2012, which has led to full classes for junior infants each year and subsequent years as those students have progressed in the school.

Mr Ferrie added: “It is the case however that the student numbers for the fifth and sixth class 2018/2019 are such that the allocation of another teacher is not permitted under Department of Education and Skills rules. The Department has rigid rules in relation to the allocation of teachers. Therefore, it would not be possible to avoid a ‘split class’ for 5th/6th class other than by employing a teacher out of the Board of Management resources, which is not permissible.

“With regard to an alleged request made of parents, neither school management nor the Board of Management has requested that the parents of students pay and/or contribute to payment of a teacher. It is the case that proposals were discussed at a meeting between management and a number of parents, however, it is not the case that any request was made of parents to contribute to payment of a teacher.”

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€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms




Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.

The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.

A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.

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Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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