Teachers to become “Baby-sitters” in the New Year if Education Minister proceeds with Budget cutbacks on Substitution Cover – BREEN.

November 20th, 2008 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen said today that teachers will become “baby-sitters in the New Year” if the Education Minister does not row back on this Budget proposals to cut substitution cover. Deputy Breen is concerned that the standard of education delivered in our Schools will suffer and that there is a real prospect that Schools will be forced to send children home from School as a result. Deputy Breen is also critical of the news today that the Grant Scheme for Minor Works which is normally paid out between October and December will not paid and asks the question “Are Schools expected to live on fresh air”?

“I raised the issue of substitution cover by way of parliamentary question to Minister O’Keeffe last week however the Minister does not appear to understand the seriousness of the situation facing Clare Schools in the New Year. The recent Budget Education Cutbacks mean that substitution cover will be suspended from January 2009. At that stage teachers who call in sick and teachers who go home feeling ill will not be entitled to substitute cover until they to a doctor and get a Medical Cert. A lot of Schools have pointed out that this situation is ridiculous and that what will happen is that large numbers of children will be herded in to their large School Halls and teachers will effectively become baby sitters.”

“As Scoil Mhuire in Ennistymon for instance have pointed out to me it will also mean the curtailment and possible of cessation of Inter Schools sporting activities; Field trips for course work in subjects such as Geography and Science will not go ahead; while visits to theatres and art galleries as part of subject programmes will have to cease. The concerns of Scoil Mhuire is replicated throughout every school in the County.”

“This is not what we expect of our Education System. Today we hear that the vital Grant Scheme for Minor Works will not go ahead this year and has been deferred to 2009. Since capitation funding is not paid until January and Ancillary Grants are not available until March, schools are having to exist on fresh air between October and the New Year.

The Minor Works Grant is usually paid out between October and December but it has now been confirmed that no payment at all will be made in 2008 and schools will have to wait until 2009 for payment.

“Are schools really supposed to exist on fresh air until January?

“Schools have to wait until the New Year for payment of capitation and Ancillary Grants and now it has been confirmed that Batt O’Keeffe has effectively cut the Minor Works Scheme for 2008. Many schools were expecting to receive the Minor Works Grant this week but now have to wait an additional two months.

Works covered under the Minor Works Scheme include improvements to school buildings and grounds. It is commonly known as the Devolved Grant and is spent on schools’ physical infrastructure including items of furniture or equipment for educational use including IT related equipment.

“Clare Schools are already dependant on fund-raising to survive and it is the children that will bear the brunt of Batt O’Keeffe’s cutbacks that are targeting frontline services and the quality of education.”



See parliamentary question for your information.





Ceist Pharlaiminte



Chun an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíoctha

To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Science if he will review his decision to

withdraw substitution cover from schools in 2009; if his attention has been

drawn to the implications of this proposal for children, parents and teachers;

and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen.

classes will be overcrowded and children will be sent from School



* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 12th November, 2008.

Reference Number: 40113/08




Minister Batt O’Keeffe

Nothwithstanding the increase of €302 million in the Education Budget for 2009,

in making the announcement of the Budget measures for education, I stressed

that tough choices had to be made in meeting the needs of the education sector

in these difficult times.

The resources available to the Department have meant that these choices have

been very challenging. The decision made to suspend substitution cover for

uncertified sick leave at primary and second level and official school

business in second level schools was a difficult one.

Substitution will continue to be provided for all other categories of absences

currently available including maternity leave and certified sick leave.

The existing arrangements will continue to apply for the

supervision/substitution scheme with teachers continuing to be paid an annual

payment in addition to salary for participation in the scheme.

As we manage through this difficult period I am asking teachers in all schools

to co-operate fully with school managers in coping with this change in the

interest of students. I am also requesting the school managerial bodies to

ensure that the supervision/substitution scheme is operated with maximum

effectiveness in all schools.