Dear OB / Friend of Belvedere College SJ,
With Budget 2014 just over four weeks away, it is now absolutely critical that you, as a past pupil make your opinion known to politicians if we are to prevent any further cuts to staffing in the college. A child in Belvedere College is receiving significantly less support from the state than their peers in non-fee schools. They should have a reasonable expectation as a taxpayer’s child that the state will at least provide them with access to teachers in the same way as students in a non-fee school of a similar background.
As you know, in recent years fee schools have been the subject of radical funding reductions, going from the state paying for one teacher for every nineteen pupils, to one teacher for every twenty-three pupils, over the last several budgets.
This does not mean putting four extra pupils in a classroom. By reducing the number of teachers paid for by the state, these cuts mean that to maintain subject choices and a balanced curriculum, parents have to pay the full cost of teacher replacements. Now, some elements of the Government would like to see even more drastic cuts in fee schools. They believe that parents in fee schools are a wealthy elite who can well afford to pay more.
Put simply, at the proposed ratios of twenty-five or twenty-six or even twenty-eight pupils per teacher, many fee schools simply will not survive. Indeed, recent newspaper articles have carried the stories of schools asking to become non-fee as they cannot continue in the wake of government action.
Those schools that do survive may see fee increases, a reduction in subject options, and staff made redundant. This will not address inequality in educational provision or “level the playing field” as some claim. It’s economic nonsense but it is populist and a distraction from the real issues of inequality that demand a multifaceted approach. What all parents should insist on is that the standard in all schools be of the highest quality.
In light of the above we are asking all parents to contact their TDs immediately to let them know that these cuts are unacceptable and unsustainable.
A website has been set up at fairfunding.ie for this purpose.
Please log on to that web page today, where, under the “lobby your TDs” section, you will find a tool for emailing your local representatives and a draft letter for you to send. You can of course take further action by meeting your local political representatives to make your voice heard. You will also find information on how we are funded, and what these cuts will mean.
I am asking you to give this matter your most urgent attention. Further cuts in the budget will adversely affect our students’ education and will not benefit students in the non-fee schools either.
Please let your TDs know today that you oppose any such measures. Unless you act, politicians will assume that this is not a matter that causes you any real concern and they will allow further cuts to fee schools in the next budget.