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Traveller education

The Minister for Education & Science, Ruairi Quinn, told Sean Crowe (SF, Dublin SW) that he did not intend to revisit the decision of the previous government to withdraw resource teachers for Travellers  (Dail Eireann, Debates, 24th March 2011, 544-5)).  Ireland was now effectively in economic receivership as a result of the decisions of the last government, which required savings in spending and keeping staffing numbers within the control framework.  The decision, though, was broadly in line with the recommendations of the Traveller Education Strategy for integration, inclusion and mainstreaming.  From the next school year, Travellers would receive tuition through existing learning support provision in schools.  He recognized that withdrawing

the posts would put a strain on existing services and for that reason limited alleviation measures would be put in place in schools with high numbers of Traveller students.

Sean Crowe described the decision as unjustifiable, granted the small numbers of Travellers who completed education and drew attention to the success of the outreach work of visiting teachers.  He questioned the alleviation measures and asked for more information about them.

The minister, though questioned how effective the allocation of resources had been in the past and accepted that current outcomes were unsatisfactory.  We would have to try harder and, moreover, achieve more with less.  In certain places there were high concentrations of Travellers.  The first step for the Traveller community to maximize educational opportunities for their children was to become settled and that had led to some high concentrations.  Some schools had high concentrations and that had a knock-on effect both within the Traveller community in the school and the wider school community, which required additional support.