Staffing in Primary Schools - Budget Cutbacks 21/2/12
Staffing in Primary Schools
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Press Statement by Sheila Nunan, INTO General Secretary, on Staffing in Primary Schools
The INTO said today that substantial progress had been made to reverse the budget cutbacks in disadvantaged primary schools. The primary teachers’ union said the Minister had put his hands up, acknowledged the problems the budget had caused for schools and reversed the impact on schools.
The INTO welcomed the decision to allow DEIS schools to retain the so called “legacy” posts in schools. Sheila Nunan general secretary of the INTO said today that following the budget the union had met the Minister face to face and raised the impact of all the budget cutbacks in schools. “Since then we have been in regular contact with Department officials and most of the concerns we raised have been met.”
Ms Nunan said recent reports from the Education Research Centre and the OECD confirm that disadvantaged spending and resources is paying dividends both educationally and socially. “The decision to cut these in the budget was misguided and needed to be reworked. We acknowledge that the Minister has now reversed the severe cuts.”
The most disadvantaged schools (DEIS 1) will get an additional allocation of learning support teachers which will reverse the threatened budget cut to that provision. “This is necessary and I welcome the Minister’s decision in this regard,” said Ms Nunan.
Ms Nunan described the revised appeal procedure for small schools affected by the budget changes was a step in the right direction. Many schools were set to lose a teacher because of the budget changes despite the fact that they could have more pupils enrolled next September. The Minister described such a scenario as “nonsense” in the Dail last month.
The Minister said: “We do not want to get into the nonsense of removing a teacher from a school in year X only to bring the teacher back in year X plus one. That approach is not common sense.”
Under the new procedure a school that meets the new enrolment requirement will not lose a teacher. Ms Nunan said this approach made sense. “Schools with the required number of additional pupils will not now face the loss of a teacher.”
Ms Nunan called on the Minister to publish the VFM Review on Small Schools immediately and use this document to ensure the maintenance of the country’s network of viable small rural schools.
However, the INTO criticised the lack of progress on allowing schools generally to combine learning support teaching hours with teaching hours for low incidence special needs children. Each school will be given 0.2 of a learning support teacher for every class in the school. Therefore, a four classroom school will have 0.8 of a learning support teacher. But the same school might also have a child with an entitlement to five hours special needs teaching (0.2 of a teacher). At present a school can combine this allocation into one job for one teacher.
But as a result of today’s announcement the learning support teacher in such a school will have to travel to another school every day and teach learning support there for one fifth of the time. On the same day, another teacher from another school will travel to the school that teacher has just left and teach the child with special needs.
While acknowledging that the measure will result in several hundred permanent posts that were previously temporary positions the INTO said this proposal will result in teachers passing each other on the roads between schools. “The result will be a significant loss of teaching time to pupils,” she Ms Nunan. She said this did not make sense and flexibility at local level was needed.