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03rd Aug 2021

Programme to save small schools by working in “clusters” to launch in September

24 schools in Galway, Waterford, and more are involved in the two-year project.

Minister for Education Norma Foley has launched a new programme to help save smaller schools across Ireland. The aim of the two-year pilot project is to get schools to work in “clusters”.

It is understood that a total of 24 schools in Kerry, Donegal, Waterford, Wicklow and Galway will be involved in the new project. It is set to begin in September.

The project will help the small schools improve staff shortages, IT issues and funding. They hope to improve services like special needs education too.

According to The Irish Times, clusters of three to five schools will be managed by one principal, “with provision for middle leadership teams across the clusters.”

Four schools in Donegal will take part as well as three schools in Kerry.

Galway will have two clusters of five schools, including one cluster with Irish language schools.

There will be three schools taking part in Wicklow and four across Co. Waterford.

Minister Foley hopes the project will highlight just how important these smaller schools are.

” [They] are valued hugely in our communities, and play an important role in community life.”

“This research project will support schools to collaborate in clusters and identify possible solutions to some of the challenges they face. I have no doubt that the schools participating across the six clusters in this project will provide valuable insights and ideas into supports that can be developed and replicated across small schools.”

The news comes after Minister Foley vowed that schools would fully reopen in September.

She said Government is preparing for a full return of schools “in late August and early September.”

“Parents can be very reassured of how safely we operate services and that the same advice from public health is being put in place,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.

She stressed that COVID-19 safety measures will remain in place throughout the school year.

“We have the added bonus this year that staff will be vaccinated,” she added.