Wednesday, 24 April 1996
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mrs. McGennis: Mulhuddart national school is a small four teacher school. It is the oldest school in the area having been established by the Blanchardstown Patriotic Society in 1822 — an organisation which concerned itself with the education of children in the villages of west Dublin. The school is housed in a  building erected in 1926. For the past number of years parents and teachers have made every effort to have a remedial teacher appointed to their school. There are 111 pupils on the roll and approximately 15 of them are in chronic need of remedial help.
Originally the school made a joint application with Scoil Oilibhéir, the all-Irish school in Coolmine, to share a remedial teacher if one should be appointed. The school was unsuccessful. For a number of years they also made joint applications with Ladyswell national school to share a remedial teacher. However, while a remedial teacher and several above quota teachers were appointed for Ladyswell school, Mulhuddart school was left without the services of a remedial teacher.
Last year another joint application was made, on this occasion with Kilbride national school. A remedial teacher was appointed last September for Kilbride school but no provision was made for Mulhuddart school. Mulhuddart is now the only national school in west Dublin without the services of a remedial teacher. The parents and teachers feel strongly that the children, who are as in need of remedial teachers as any other children, are being discriminated against. The parents have paid for the services of a remedial teacher after school hours for the past number of years and they are extremely concerned. They have decided to launch a public campaign to inform the local politicians of the situation. They have asked me on their behalf to bring this matter to the Minister's attention in the hope that a shared remedial teacher will be sanctioned for Mulhuddart national school.
 The Minister is not in a position to make remedial teacher posts available to the primary school sector. As has been indicated to the House in the past, remedial education at primary level is a matter in the first instance for the ordinary class teachers. The majority of pupils with remedial needs would, therefore, be helped within the scope of the normal teaching service. However, it is acknowledged that remedial teachers constitute the main additional resource for addressing the problem of under-achievement in primary schools.
Substantial additional resources have been allocated to this area in recent years. In 1995, an additional 55 remedial teachers were appointed to primary schools and 223 schools benefited from this allocation. This brought the total number of remedial teachers in place to 1,188. Of the 3,209 ordinary national schools throughout the country, approximately 2,285 now have the services of a remedial teacher, either on a full-time or a shared basis. Of the 408 ordinary national schools in County Dublin, 394 now have the services of a remedial teacher, either on a full-time or shared basis. This includes 16 schools allocated a remedial service with effect from the commencement of the current school year as part of the distribution of 55 posts. These posts were allocated on the basis of priority of need following the collection and analysis of information from the schools by the Department's primary inspectorate and also having consideration for data submitted by schools. This means that 98 per cent of pupils attending ordinary national schools in County Dublin currently enjoy a remedial service.
The Minister for Education has indicated to the House her intention to review the needs in this area and consider how best these needs can be addressed within available resources. When the Minister is in a position to further extend the remediation service,  Mulhuddart national school will receive every consideration.
At this stage, 87 per cent of the pupils in our primary schools have the possibility of access to a remedial teacher. This is a big improvement on the position when the Minister for Education took office in 1993 when 77 per cent of  pupils had the possibility of such access. It is a matter of regret to the Minister that it is not possible at present to meet the needs of all pupils for remedial teaching as, unfortunately, she does not have unlimited resources.
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