Commenting on the latest figures from the back to ‘School Costs Survey 2016’ issued by the children’s charity Barnardos, Michael Lowry TD has said that the findings reflect what he is hearing from his constituents, that parents are struggling financially to pay for their children’s back to school needs despite so-called ‘free education’.
“This 11th annual ‘School Costs Survey’ highlights that many parents both locally and nationally are under severe pressure at this time of year, dreading how they will pay for all that is required for school.
The findings of the survey highlight that the overall cost of sending a child to primary school is €340 and to post primary school is €775. These estimates don’t even include the money needed by parents to pay for transport, extra-curricular activities, school bags and other accessories. These kinds of expenses are placing enormous stress on families who are already under pressure to pay everyday family costs and household bills. Parents in difficulty are facing awful dilemmas of having to forego home rental and mortgage payments or even borrowing to make ends meet. If education in Ireland is free, why are parents footing these huge bills?
With Budget 2017 approaching it is time for the Government to recognise that parents and schools alike are still straining under the weight of funding cuts. Austerity measures which resulted in cuts to social welfare rates, such as the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance being halved, negatively impacts upon parents’ abilities to fund the most basic requirements needed for their children. It must be remembered that these cuts come despite back to school costs remaining high or even increasing.
I welcome the proposed measures by our present government in relation to investing an extra €500m in education by 2021 and reviewing the School Transport Scheme with recommendations on concessionary school transport. More action is needed to implement measures that will effectively support struggling parents and put a halt to the dread they feel at the back to school time of year. Further investment needs to be prioritised to fund schools and support initiatives that will realistically and significantly reduce costs to parents” concluded Deputy Lowry.
Deputy Michael Lowry has welcomed the decision by the Department of Education to formally approve funding for the construction of an additional mainstream classroom for St. Michael’s National School in Holycross.
Deputy Lowry stated “This new classroom will also facilitate the recent sanction of a 9th teacher for the school. Holycross National School has a strong reputation for the delivery of high quality education. The school is in great demand and has developed and expanded to the extent that it will have an enrolment of 240 students for the next September school term. Compliments are due to the management and staff of the school for their guidance and expertise which is acknowledged and appreciated by the local community”.
Mr. Ger Corbett, Principal of St. Michael’s National School said; “The school community are delighted to hear that we are getting a new classroom for our 9th classroom teacher which will be a very handsome addition to the excellent facilities we have at the moment, ranging from our Gort na nÓg facility to the full range of primary provisions. The school community has worked very hard to provide these and Michael Lowry T.D. has played a key role. From a small but famous school at the top of the Green we now have an excellent facility to cater for this growing community for many years to come.
I sincerely congratulate and thank the partners involved in the education of the young children of this community and we confidently look forward to the years ahead.
The enrolment currently stands at 240 pupils and is being catered for by an excellent staff of 9 class teachers and 5 Special Educational Needs (SEN) team members and all our valued ancillary staff”.
Deputy Lowry concluded, “Fr. Tom Breen, together with the Management Board and Parents Council have also welcomed this sanction and the approval to proceed with this project.”
Pictured here L to R: Ger Corbett Principal Holycross National School, Michael Lowry T.D., Rev Fr. Tom Breen, Mary Ryan and John Bourke
Deputy Michael Lowry has called on the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Mr Denis Naughten, to urgently advance the Government’s National Broadband Plan for County Tipperary.
Currently there exists well over 41,000 properties across Tipperary without broadband and of these over 8,000 are businesses of varying sizes, each attempting to compete in the wider market place. Larger towns like Clonmel, Thurles, Nenagh, Tipperary Town and Templemore are well served by commercial operators; however other smaller towns and villages right across Tipperary require immediate intervention by the government.
Deputy Lowry recently contacted Minister Naughten highlighting that “a key element for rural development must be to invest in infrastructure in areas outside of the main towns and cities. The absence of high speed broadband is a significant issue in attracting foreign direct or other investment to rural areas, thus obstructing all future job creation in Tipperary”. Lowry further insisted that “the State now fast-track the necessary capital funding into the Broadband process to expedite the rollout schedule and guarantee rural broadband to 100% of Tipperary homes and businesses.”
The Independent TD continued, “The Government needs to review its current timeline on Broadband issues and stop referring to it as anything other than what it actually is, a basic and essential utility. Lack of Broadband is threatening the very growth capacity of entire local economies, particularly in Co. Tipperary. Broadband has become a critical factor to 21st century business life, and rural businesses rightfully feel abandoned and unable to compete, while city based businesses continue to thrive.This same digital divide now places rural Ireland at a massive disadvantage and is not just failing individuals and businesses in their ability to communicate, but is also affecting students in our educational system to adequately engage in their intellectual pursuits; much of which now depends on having access to basic Internet facilities.
Obviously the lack of basic Broadband accessibility is only one of the many areas that need to be scrutinised in an effort to stop the everyday curse of migration, emigration and unemployment. These factors are draining rural areas of their very livelihood. However, with rural Ireland lacking critical 21st century infrastructure in providing 21st century opportunities, rural dwellers will continue to flee in favour of greater prospects elsewhere.
Business, whatever its size is the very lifeblood of every economy and if entrepreneurship is to be encouraged to set up in rural Ireland, access to Broadband is now essential if we are to work, grow and fairly compete,” concluded Deputy Lowry.
The refusal by the Health Service Executive to approve services at Scoil Aonghusa Cashel is causing unwarranted hardship and inconvenience.
The refusal by the Health Service Executive to approve services at Scoil Aonghusa Cashel is causing unwarranted hardship and inconvenience.
The experience of parents and their teachers regarding children with special educational needs over the lifetime of this government has become a national disgrace. Continuous muddled government policies over how to provide for such children, together with the shortage of resources and the non-availability of facilities, consign many to what can only be described as ‘bureaucratic purgatory’.
These problems are further exacerbated by parents being forced to lurch from crisis to crisis trying to ensure that their children receive a basic education appropriate to their needs, while also endeavouring to locate a continuous and safe environment. All too often, parents with children of special needs, spend a large proportion of their earnings, not to mention months of precious time, to find that there are insufficient services or they have to wait weeks, months, even years before they can get therapy and support for their child.
Last Monday night, I attended a meeting in ‘Scoil Aonghusa’ school in Cashel. This co-educational school which facilitates 85 individuals with multiple physical, emotional and other learning difficulties. These pupils need immediate specialist services and are receiving very little support or funding from the Health Service Executive. I am aware that this is a national issue but similarly, another school ‘Scoil Cormaic’ based too in Cashel who assist to 223 children and young adults also see the constant reoccurrence of minimal services being provided.
The introduction of the Progressive Disability Services for Children and Young Children established by the Health Service Executive to change the way services are provided, is a haphazard, unpredictable, ‘billy- to- jack’, delivery of service and therapy. This project is not going to alleviate any problem. We need services delivered consistently and cohesively and in collaboration with parents and teachers. We need to start listening to parents and teachers who care for these children every day. Both are acutely aware of what needs to be undertaken and how efficient delivery of such services can be fully achieved.
Children with special needs should have access to all the specialist therapy and supports they require not out of luxury, but out of necessity. Lack of funding for services is the current governments daily recited turn of phrase that parents and teachers hear repeatedly, but shouldn’t we find that funding, and shouldn’t funding for children with special needs be a first priority? We need to ensure that everything is in place for them to be enabled to reach their full potential. Instead, without funding and adequate numbers of therapists the government is guilty of preventing these children from reaching their potential, when life has already put enough obstacles in their way.
Yes, we have moved on in terms of assessing and diagnosing children, but support and services for children with special needs has not. Children with special needs are still not receiving the support they need and deserve, in this country. What good is an assessment or a diagnosis, without follow up therapy and support from specialists? It just gives parents and teachers a keyword to research on ‘Google’.
It is evident that this continued chaos of care and services is not at fault with psychologists or therapists, their caseloads are simply too big to meet the needs of so many children. In the absence of services, our teachers are to be applauded for the incredible work they are undertaking to meet the requirements of these children and the after school support they are also providing to parents.
In our last budget we heard that there are more resource and learning support teaching positions being sanctioned. It is obvious that these posts are vital and should continue to increase, however what you don’t hear and what these announcements hide is the fighting, pleading and justification that schools and parents have to make to get these posts. What you don’t hear is how overwhelmed teachers and parents are, to meet the needs of children when there are little or no therapists or services. We need more specialist therapists and psychologists and we need them available to schools, to parents and ultimately to the children with additional needs who deserve them. We need this as a matter of priority.
Michael Lowry T.D. Welcomes The RSA and ESB ‘Back to School’ Road Safety Campaign
Deputy Michael Lowry welcomes the RSA and ESB Networks Back to School road safety campaign. The two organisation have teamed up to distribute 85,500 High Visibility Vests FREE to every child starting school this year. Schools can now register online for the RSA’s ‘Back to School’ road safety packs which will be sent to primary schools nationwide over the coming months.
To register online for your packs, or for further road safety information for parents, teachers and students, visit Back To School 2015
More information is available on the RSA Website
IFA LAUNCHES NATIONAL FARM SAFETY AWARENESS DAY, TUESDAY 21ST JULY
“I am asking farm families to take time out from farming on Tuesday next, 21st July to review their Farm Safety Risk Assessment by assessing the safety risks on their farm and put in place control measures to reduce the risk of accidents. IFA, with the support of the Champions for Change campaign, has produced an easy-to-use Farm Safety Risk Assessment Planner, which I would encourage all farm families to use to review safety on their farm”.
The National Farm Safety Awareness Day is part of the IFA’s ongoing SAVE LIVES, ‘Think Safety, Farm Safely’ campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of working on a farm and encourage farmers to change working practices to reduce risks.
IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chairwoman Maura Canning said that National Farm Safety Awareness Day is about getting the whole family involved to review safety on the farm. “Summer is a very busy time on farms so it is important that the young people are aware of the potential risks. By getting the whole family involved I believe we will bring about real change in behaviour to safety and make farming safer.”
Eddie Downey said, “Attitudes to farm safety are changing. The response to the Farm Safety Scheme shows that if farmers are supported, they will invest in safety. IFA will continue to work with and support farm families through initiatives like the Farm Safety Risk Assessment planner to improve safety on farms”.
Information VIA: The Irish Farmers Association Website
I am deeply shocked to learn of the tragic news emerging from Berkeley California that a number of Irish Citizens have lost their lives and others have been injured in an incident earlier today.
For any family in Tipperary who are worried about loved ones who are on J1’s in Berkeley at this time please feel free to contact myself or the office on (0504) 22022 or the Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade has activated its Emergency Response Helpline on (01) 418 0200.
My thoughts are with the family’s and friends of these young people at this sensitive time.