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Fitzpatrick lauds “fairer chance” for school children

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Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick.
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This article originally appeared on ThisIsArdee.ie

Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick says local children will benefit from “better opportunities and a fairer chance” due to the increase in teachers and SNAs announced for schools for 2018 in this week’s budget.

On Tuesday, the government announced an increase of €554 million to the Department of Education budget for the year ahead, much of which they say will go towards hiring more teachers and SNAs – over 2,200 of them nationwide. The ratio of children to teacher will also decrease to 26:1.

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Speaking this week, Deputy Fitzpatrick said: “I am delighted to announce that children here in Louth will benefit from the lowest pupil teacher ratio ever of 26:1, ensuring better opportunities and a fairer chance for all children in classrooms across our local community.

“Fine Gael is also committed to ensuring that children with special educational needs are given the opportunity to reach their full potential.

“The Government is investing over €1.7bn for special education needs in the coming year. This means that over 1,000 additional Special Needs Assistants can be recruited in time for September 2018, bringing the total number of SNAs to over 15,000,” he continued. This will ensure extra support for children who need it most here in Louth, ensuring they have a fair chance and the best opportunities.

Between Ardee Educate Together, Scoil Muire na Trocaire, Monastery Boys NS and Ballapousta NS, there are almost 1,000 primary pupils in the Ardee area, with an additional 388 at schools in Tallanstown and Newtown.

In July, it was announced the government planned to increase the number of SNA’s nationwide by 975. Allocations for 2017/18 saw Ardee Community School’s allocation of Special Needs Assistants increase while Ardee Educate Together and the Monastery Boys NS school also received increased allocations. Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire kept it’s one assistant, while Ballapousta NS received a decrease by the Department of Education.

“In 2018 we will also see 230 new teachers in special classes and special schools and 100 new Special Education teachers.

Fine Gael TD Fitzpatrick also said families with older children will also welcome newfunding announced for the third level sector.

“My colleague Paschal Donohoe also announced an additional €310 million has been allocated out to 2021 to address the infrastructure needs of the higher and further education sectors. The new investment will also support the development of Technological Universities across the country.  It is the Department of Education’s intention to have this Bill passed by Christmas,” he said.

“I am delighted that we are responding to the increasing demographics and are providing an additional 2100 student places in higher education. The opportunity now exists for more students to avail of further education.”

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