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OECD report shows Ireland is underfunding primary education

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Press Release

Sheila Nunan

General Secretary

Irish National Teachers Organisation

OECD report shows Ireland is underfunding primary education

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 2017 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.

Ms Nunan said the report clearly shows that primary education is the Cinderella of the education system when it comes to funding. “It is unacceptable that other levels of education are better funded,” she said. “This blatant inequity must be addressed in Budget 2018 next month.”

The OECD report shows most countries spending more per student than at start of the crisis in 2008. Ireland is an exception. Education at a Glance shows spending in Ireland has fallen 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 said 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 EU 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 22 average of 767 hours.

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