Dempsey should take a closer look at schools

IT would appear that the Minister for Education and Science, Noel Dempsey, has the same regard for teachers and the implementation of the new curriculum as he had for members of town councils and local democracy while Minister for the Environment.

He presided over the preparation of a system of allowances for town councillors whereby the relativity established with county councillors in 1999 was set aside and the work of town local government was set at one-quarter of the county level (formerly one-half) while former town commissioners got a paltry one-eighth (formerly one-quarter).

This was no surprise in view of the accelerating transfer of power from town councils which will soon have fewer functions than tidy towns committees. Councils are now left with the meaningless title of mayor and some other trappings to cover the loss of control over housing, roads, water, refuse, etc.

Before he continues with his campaign against the teachers, perhaps he should read the new curriculum handbooks to find out what is really happening in the schools where some subjects have been fully implemented and others partially so, on the directives of his own department.

It must be a long time since he visited our schools, where the classrooms have been totally transformed and co-operative learning is the keynote.

Teachers have responded with enthusiasm to the demands of the new curriculum, including long hours preparing school and classroom plans as well as school policies on admission, anti-bullying, discipline and health and safety.

Of course there is still some formal teaching needed, especially in the senior classes where children have to be prepared for entrance tests to second level perhaps Mr Dempsey should order these to be outlawed and ensure continuity of the curriculum and teaching methods.

He might also look a little closer to home, at his colleagues in the Dáil, who gave themselves an extra week last Hallowe'en ("to be with their families!") and ask what they have done to deserve their salary increases under the benchmarking policy. Who should be sent in to check on how many of his own 'classmates' are at their desks while the Dáil and Senate are in session.

Who should guard the guardians? Who indeed!

Dermot Ryan,

Winter's Hill,

Kinsale,

Co Cork.

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