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Budget 2013: Class Sizes 05/12/2012

No increase in class sizes in larger schools welcome but further cuts to teachers in small schools flawed and misguided

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Sheila Nunan General Secretary, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation On Budget 2013: Class Sizes

No increase in class sizes in larger schools welcome but further cuts to teachers in small schools flawed and misguided

The primary teachers’ union the INTO has welcomed no change to the staffing schedule in larger schools in today’s budget.  An increase in class sizes in all primary schools was widely predicted in the run up to the budget.

The union lobbied government TDs on the issue in advance of the budget.

Sheila Nunan, general secretary of the INTO said that the union had sought no increase in class sizes in primary schools. She said it was a matter of grave concern that in 2, 3 and 4 teacher schools like last year, class sizes were being increased again.

“Teachers are front line staff in the education sector,” said Ms Nunan. “Irish class sizes are already the second highest in the EU, marginally behind the UK.”

She said that on average Irish primary teachers teach 3 extra children per class more than their EU colleagues.

The INTO had argued that increases to Irish class sizes were not sustainable and would  undermine initiatives in schools including literacy and numeracy, school self-evaluation and anti-bullying.

The union said the government was continuing its policy to forcibly amalgamate some small schools by cutting teachers again.

Ms Nunan said this decision should be reversed and called on the government to publish its long awaited value for money report on small schools.

“Decisions about small schools in mainly rural communities should be about ensuring the best education for pupils regardless of location.  It is complex and many issues need to be considered before a policy of school closures is implemented.”

Ms Nunan said this included enrolment patterns and trends, investment in school buildings and respect for language and religious diversity.  “We have had a VFM for over a year.” She called on government to publish it.

“Primary consideration should be given to the needs of pupils, their parents and the wider community,” said Ms Nunan. ENDS