School principals and teachers are on the “frontline” in combating many of Ireland’s current social problems, a Catholic education spokesperson has said.
According to Seamus Mulconry of the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association, every social issue that has affected the country, such as homelessness, “hits schools first” and teaching staff need more “resources and support” to be able to address these problems.
The comments come after new findings which show that more than one in four primary schools across the State have homeless children who are suffering from anxiety, poor self-esteem and exhaustion. The survey conducted by the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) found that 27% of primary schools have homeless children.
Commenting on the study, Mr Mulconry said the figures “underscore” how instrumental school staff are in tackling social issues of the day and that more help is needed.
“Obviously, the best thing to help homeless children is to solve the problem of homelessness. I think in terms of resources for schools though, school principals in particular have an incredibly heavy administrative burden and real work needs to be done on that, and taking some of the pressure off school principals so they are able to focus more on the children in their schools. We need less administration and more focus on children,” Mr Mulconry said.
Despite the lack of resources school staff currently have, Mr Mulconry added that principals and teachers are going the “extra mile” to support struggling students, and are cognisant when families are under pressure.
“I would also say that all of the evidence suggests that schools are going the extra mile to provide support to pupils whether they have the resources or not, they are going the extra mile to provide that support, and to treat people with dignity which is fundamental in a situation like this,” he said.