Budget Threats to Cut Teacher Numbers 7/11/11
Budget Threat to Cut Teacher Numbers
Monday, 7 November 2011
Press release, Sheila Nunan, General Secretary, INTO, on budget threat to cut teacher numbers.
Schools shocked by rumours of budget cuts.
The INTO described pre-budget rumours of thousands of job losses in schools as shocking. The general secretary of the primary teachers’ union Sheila Nunan said schools up and down the country would be stunned by the scale of the proposed cutbacks.
She was commenting on media coverage that the government is planning to cut up to two thousand teaching jobs in schools in next month’s budget.
Ms Nunan said this year schools were struggling with the effects of last year’s budget which cut hundreds of teaching jobs from primary schools. “News that further cuts on this scale are planned will shock teachers. Many will question how they will cope if cuts like this are imposed by government.”
The INTO pointed out that Irish class sizes in primary schools are already the second highest in the EU. “There is simply no room to pack three, four or even five pupils into already over-crowded classrooms,” said Ms Nunan.
Ms Nunan said teachers had signalled support for the government’s literacy and numeracy plan but pointed out that cuts of this scale would seriously undermine the plan. “Small classes are necessary when children are young to ensure that children get the basics,” said Ms Nunan.
Ireland’s classes in primary schools are already twenty percent higher than the EU average with 24 pupils per class compared to 20 in other countries. There is widespread agreement among education researchers that younger children do not do as well in over-crowded classes. “When class numbers are reasonable modern teaching methods are possible,” said Ms Nunan. “If we want to improve education outcomes for children the last thing that should be done is increase class sizes.”
She described talk of increasing class size in primary schools as “foisting austerity on the young. “Most children in primary school this year were not even born when the seeds of economic mismanagement were sown,” she said. “They should not be expected to pay the price of keeping banks on life support machines.”
A decade ago government promised to reduce class sizes for the under nines to less than twenty in line with international best practice. This year, the education department’s own figures show that only 15 percent of primary pupils are in classes of less than twenty pupils.