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Added to on April 2, 2007

[Paddy Crosbie retired in 1978 having spent 44 years teaching in "The School Around The Corner" - St Paul's Christian Brothers School in North Brunswick St. Dublin. He died in 1982. The following is an extract from a Dail debate ten years after his death. It gives an insight into how things have changed.]

Dail Eireann - Volume 421 - 25 June, 1992
Adjournment Debate. - Remedial Teacher for Dublin School.

(Tony Gregory)
Mr. Gregory: It is ironic that I am raising this issue at the same time as the Minister for Education and the Minister of State at the Department of Education are launching their long-awaited Green Paper on Education. One might pose the question, what value have Green Papers when a primary school serving one of the most disadvantaged inner city areas in Dublin does not have and, it seems, cannot get a sanctioned remedial teacher?

I refer to the 12-year long request for the sanctioning of a remedial teacher for Saint Paul's Christian Brothers' national school, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. The school is best known throughout Ireland as "Brunner" or the original "School around the corner", made famous by Paddy Crosbie. Today Saint Paul's in Brunswick Street caters for approximately 300 children, many of whom come from some of the most disadvantaged parts of Dublin's north inner city. Indeed, the school caters for the children of families living in a nearby corporation-funded hostel for homeless families. Saint Paul's has one of the most committed and dedicated teaching staffs and parents' committees of any school in Dublin, or anywhere else for that matter. They are doing the very best they can for their pupils and their children despite the very limited resources available to them.

It is now 12 years since the school first applied for the sanctioning of a remedial teacher. There appears to be no explanation why the request has not been granted. I suggest that this is the only national school in the inner city that does not have a sanctioned remedial teacher. Certainly, all of the other schools in the immediate environment of Brunswick Street have sanctioned remedial teachers, most have had those teachers for more than ten years. The vast majority of pupils at Saint Paul's go to North Brunswick Street from schools with remedial teachers.

So desperate is the obvious need at Saint Paul's that the school's concessionary teacher, given to them because they served a disadvantaged area, is trying to do the work of a remedial teacher. However, because he is not sanctioned he is not trained, as the necessary training course at Saint Patrick's in Drumcondra is opened only when a teacher is sanctioned. Equally, the grants for special books and equipment to furnish a remedial room are not available to Saint Paul's, again for the same reason.

If the Minister has the slightest sympathy for the needs of this school he will at the very least ensure that they get the available grants and that the teacher gets the necessary training. The officials in the Minister's Department are fully aware of the injustice of the case and the needs of the school.

Out of the 240 pupils excluding sixth class there are 109 are in need of remedial attention in English reading and 92 are in need of remedial help in mathematics. The school are making every effort to cope with the serious difficulties of their pupils but there appears to be no reward for their efforts. With 30 to 35 pupils in a class, their special needs, with the best will in the world, cannot be catered for properly.

If the remedial teacher were sanctioned the post would not be counted for pupil-teacher ratio purposes, neither could the school lose the post. The benefits to the pupils are very clear. Surely the Minister will agree that it would be much better for society to assist Brunswick Street school in this way. I am sure the Minister is well aware that it costs the State about t£60,000 a year to keep just one young person in a detention centre or in prison. How many young people would be saved from that fate if the proper resources were made available to our primary schools? Children with serious learning difficulties in large classes consider themselves failures, and this frustration sows the seeds for future problems for our society, problems which are in the news every day of the week but whose causes or sources we fail to consider.

Is it because St. Paul's is such a popular and successful school that they are denied the necessary resources? Why is it that many other schools in more affluent areas in Dublin have sanctioned remedial teachers? Were they chosen for political reasons? They could hardly have been chosen on the basis of need. There is no question of declining numbers at St. Paul's. It is one of the best loved and most respected schools in Dublin city. The school's only difficulty is that they are attempting to do the very best for all their pupils.

In support of their request they have submitted a detailed and confidential report to the Minister's Department. I ask the Minister to examine the submission. He would then be in no doubt as to the urgency of the school's request.

It is most regrettable that despite the commitments given in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress there will not be a single remedial teacher sanctioned by the Department this year, just as none was appointed in 1989 or 1990. Up until 1988 an average of 30 remedial teachers were sanctioned each year. So much for the Programme for Economic and Social Progress commitment to direct resources to the disadvantaged. So much for the Green Paper being launched today. I appeal to the Minister to review this matter urgently and to sanction a remedial teacher for this school, which needs one so badly.