INTO Congress 2024 – Calls for higher Investment, more teachers and supports for vulnerable at home and abroad

This year’s INTO Congress, held in Derry focused on key themes of investment in education, improved working conditions for teachers, and global solidarity.

Union Strength and Teacher Welfare

Opening the Congress, former INTO President Dorothy McGinley highlighted progress made since the last Derry Congress in 1934 but stressed the need for further improvement. She pointed to issues like large class sizes, a lack of resources for special education, and insufficient teacher pay. She acknowledged recent pay deals but emphasised the need to address workload and class sizes. Both McGinley and INTO General Secretary John Boyle called for the Department of Education to take responsibility for fixing these problems, arguing that teachers shouldn’t have to deliver “second-class services in a first-world country.”

Owen Reidy, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), commended INTO’s work and stressed the importance of a strong trade union movement to maintain good public services and living standards. He highlighted a recent survey showing a desire for union membership among many workers and rallied members to confront the rise of extremism in Irish society.

Education Investment and Global Issues

Minister for Education Norma Foley acknowledged the challenges facing young people and outlined departmental efforts to support them. She condemned the violence in Gaza and emphasised the importance of good quality education in Ireland. She praised teachers’ work and highlighted government investment in education services.

John Boyle, however, countered that many qualified teachers are leaving due to unattractive working conditions. He called for increased government spending on education, improved school resources, and proper implementation of the new curriculum. He also raised concerns about teacher workload and physical aggression in schools.

The Palestinian Ambassador delivered a powerful address, urging the international community to intervene in the ongoing conflict and highlighting the devastating impact on Palestinian education.

Looking Forward

Carmel Browne, taking over as INTO President, pledged to work on creating inclusive school environments, supporting teachers working with children with additional needs, and advocating for improved women’s reproductive health services. She emphasised teamwork in improving both teachers’ working conditions and the lives of students.

Congress 2024 ended with a clear message: investment in education and improved working conditions for teachers are crucial for a thriving education system. INTO remains committed to advocating for its members and for a better future for all students.