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Underfunding Primary Education & NQTs Underpaid 15/09/16

Ireland is underfunding primary education and new teachers are underpaid.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Press Release Sheila Nunan General Secretary Irish National Teachers Organisation

Ireland is underfunding primary education and new teachers are underpaid.

Irish primary schools fare badly when it comes to funding relative to other levels of education.

Sheila Nunan general secretary of the INTO strongly criticised what she called the unfair funding of Irish primary education. She was reacting to the publication of the OECD Education at a Glance 2016 report published today.

The report which compares education systems across the globe shows that in Ireland, lowest spending is to be found at primary level. For every 8 euro spent on a primary pupil, 11 is spent at second level and 14 at third level.

The report shows that in OECD countries, expenditure per student averages 22% of per capita GDP at primary level and 25% at the lower secondary level. In Ireland, the proportions are 17% at the primary level (below the OECD average of 22%) and 23% at the lower secondary level (close to the OECD average of 25%).

Ms Nunan said it was unacceptable that other levels of education are better funded and she called for this inequity to be addressed in Budget 2017 next month.

The OECD report shows most countries spending more per student in 2013 than they did at the start of the crisis in 2008. Ireland is an exception. Education at a Glance shows spending in Ireland has fallen by up to 15 per cent against comparable EU countries in recent years.

Ms Nunan said the main reason for this was that starting salaries for teachers are now below the OECD average from a point where Irish teachers had a salary advantage over counterparts in other countries. She siad this showed the extent of the cuts to new entrant pay imposed by government in recent years and the need to address pay inequality in the teaching profession.

The report shows that despite new Irish teachers being underpaid they are among the most productive. They teach more pupils than teachers in other countries. The average class size in Irish primary schools is 25 compared to OECD average of 20 pupils per class. Irish primary teachers teach more hours than teachers in other countries. Irish primary teachers teach for 915 hours per year compared to EU 21 average of 754 hours. ENDS