240x160_janosullivanJan O’ Sullivan is the Labour Party TD for Limerick City. She was first elected to the Dáil in 1998 in a bye-election to fill the seat vacated by the death of Jim Kemmy. She has since been re-elected in three General Elections. She was appointed Minister For Education and Skills in July 2014.

Seomra Ranga: Will your party remove the embargo on the filling of middle management posts in primary schools?

No response was received to this question.

Seomra Ranga: What is your party’s position on church control in Irish education, the divestment process and the place of religion in school enrolment policies?

Jan O’ Sullivan: Labour in government has driven real change and reform towards a more pluralist system of school patronage which reflects the diverse beliefs of families across Ireland. We need to build on that work to ensure that local schools welcome local children, and to double the number of multi-denominational schools across Ireland. We plan to open 100 additional multi-denominational schools over the next five years, and will amend the Equal Status Act so that local children can access local schools.

Seomra Ranga: How will your party support the development of technology in primary schools, including meaningful access to quality broadband and the updating of basic technology hardware?

Jan O’ Sullivan: Labour in government has ensured that ensure all teachers working in our schools are qualified. We have reduced the rental bill for prefabs in schools by 40% and provided high-speed broadband free of charge to every second-level school.  We will now ensure that all primary schools are similarly equipped, and introduce annual school ICT grants from the next school year. We will put in place a new model of school leadership so that school principals have support in leading teaching and learning in their schools, and will enhance the role of Education and Training Boards in providing project management and administrative support to schools.

Seomra Ranga: Will your party restore the pay of entrants to the teaching profession since 2011 to that of earlier entrants and end the scandal of a two-tier pay scale?

Jan O’ Sullivan: The Labour Party fully recognises that attracting and retaining top-quality teachers in our schools requires that teachers have dignity at work and can earn a decent living. We will negotiate a new public sector pay deal in advance of the conclusion of the Lansdowne Road Agreement to deal with remaining unresolved issues arising from the FEMPI acts. We are committed to ensuring that the principle of equal pay scales for equal work in the public sector is an established one.”

Seomra Ranga: Will your party end the public service pension levy?

No response was received to this question.

Seomra Ranga: Will your party increase funding to primary schools in order to help them adequately meet the day-to-day costs of running a school?

Jan O’ Sullivan: We will increase funding to schools by €60 per child, in return for an end to voluntary contributions and other charges on parents. We will also abolish all school transport charges by 2018, and make travel to school using leap cards free for children.

Seomra Ranga: Will your party further reduce class sizes to the average EU levels of 20 per class?

Jan O’ Sullivan: A strong economy and a decent society requires that every child has the opportunity to access a top quality education fit for the digital age. As part of that, we want to significantly reduce class sizes.  Building on the reduction in class sizes in the last Budget, Labour intends to reduce class sizes to an average of 20 children by 2021.

Seomra Ranga: Will your party reverse the cuts to pupils with special educational needs and allow them their full access to additional teaching supports?

Jan O’ Sullivan: As a first step towards a new vision for supporting children with special needs, we will mainstream the pilot model of allocating resource teachers from September 2017 in a way that ensures that no school faces a reduction in resources, but schools that are under-resourced at present are brought up to the level of support they need. We will improve the integration of therapy supports into school settings and we will expand the number of educational psychologists so that money is not an obstacle to appropriate support.

Seomra Ranga: What is your party’s vision for primary education in Ireland in the 21st century?

Jan O’ Sullivan: Education is a great liberating force in society.  Investment in and reform of education will help us build a more equal Ireland.  Making every school fit for the digital age, making sure that every child is welcome in every school and launching a skills revolution are our priorities.

Editor’s Note: I did not receive replies which matched exactly the questions asked so had to try and match responses to questions. I sought clarification on this but received no reply. I hope I have managed to accurately reflect the views of the Labour Party.

Editor’s Note: All political parties/groupings were sent the same set of questions on the same day and given five days to respond. To make a comparison, the responses from the other parties are also now on the site – except for Fine Gael, People Before Profit and Anti Austerity Alliance. None of these parties responded to the questions, despite a reminder email also being sent.