Primary Pupils and Principals short-changed in today’s budget – INTO initial reaction

Primary Pupils and Principals short-changed in today’s budget

INTO – initial reaction

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

INTO led a nationwide campaign to ensure that every politician in Dáil Éireann was educated on the challenges facing our primary education system. Class sizes are supersized, school leaders are not supported, and our system grossly underfunds the running of primary schools to the tune of €46 million per year.

It’s clear that school leaders and pupils have been short-changed in today’s budget. The government has failed to respond to the struggles facing school leaders. Our teaching principals deserve the support they need to be leaders within their schools. Principals and teaching principals in Irish primary schools are overworked, underpaid and grappling with never-ending administrative work emerging from the Department of Education and Skills and other state agencies.

To support school leadership, it is beyond time to restore the key middle management posts cut ten years ago. Budget 2018 and 2019 failed to deliver any restoration. Budget 2020 was an opportunity when assistant principal posts could have been given back to schools. Teaching principals have demanded a minimum of one leadership and management day per week and this budget has failed to deliver on this reasonable demand.

While some restorations in class sizes for small schools are welcome, Irish primary school classes continue to be the largest in the Eurozone. Our children in supersized classes of 30 and more need a commitment to smaller classes in line with European norms, to guarantee that they receive the level of attention they need.

INTO Secretary General John Boyle said:

“Ireland’s national ambition to become the best education and training service in Europe by 2026 can’t be secured if our pupils and school leaders are not adequately supported. Our school leaders deserve better – we need to see a restoration of assistant principal posts in our schools and teaching principals need a minimum of one leadership and management day per week. Despite acknowledging the class size differential in small schools and the school funding challenges facing all of our primary schools, today’s budget will do little to lower class sizes to eurozone levels or reduce the funding pressures facing schools.”

“Regrettably, in the first school year of the new decade, class sizes in Irish primary schools will still be the largest in the Eurozone. Ireland’s expenditure on primary education will remain in the bottom half of the European league and primary school leadership will continue to be neglected.”

“Our prudent and legitimate calls for a reduction of one pupil in all classes, the restoration of school capitation to pre-recession levels of €200 per pupil and supports for primary principals including middle leadership teams and more administrative release time have been ignored by government. We simply cannot become the best if we fail to invest for the best.”