INTO slams lack of progress on educational disadvantage

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation has heavily criticised the Department of Education and Skills’ lack of progress in supporting pupils in disadvantaged areas.

A department review group for the DEIS – Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools scheme was set up in 2015, but according to primary school teachers, has not made sufficient progress. Delegates at the INTO Annual Congress pointed to key areas where progress is lacking, including class size, early intervention and the funding of targeted programmes for pupils in disadvantaged areas.

Teachers condemned class sizes remaining unchanged in disadvantaged schools despite minor reductions in schools outside of DEIS. They state that pupils in disadvantaged areas benefit greatly from smaller class sizes but that these, most vulnerable, pupils are once again on the losing side of government investment.

Proposing the motion, Principal Peter McCabe said that breakfast clubs and homework clubs in DEIS schools have helped “make life more tolerable for some of our pupils.” But he criticised the lack of support from the Department of Education and Skills, saying that “Much of the heavy lifting is done by staff in DEIS schools who continue to work alongside pupils with serious behaviour issues, coaxing them and their parents along the road to
school completion.”

In passing resolution at the conference, INTO members have mandated their Central Executive Committee to instigate a public campaign to highlight the impact of social inequality in schools and to continue to engage with relevant government departments to see real and timely progress for the DEIS scheme.