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Budget 2017 11/10/16

Budget fails primary education

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Press Release Irish National Teachers’ Organisation on Budget 2017

Budget 2017 is a missed opportunity to start rebuilding the education system after eight years of austerity cutbacks.

The key priority in Budget 2017 should have been to invest in frontline education services to enable primary schools to deliver high quality services. By any yardstick that priority has not been achieved in the measures unveiled today.

The INTO said the government had abandoned the programme for government at the first hurdle. Sheila Nunan general secretary of the INTO said the government’s plan for education was in tatters because the budget had failed to match the ambition with the resources.

Irish primary classes remain the second most over-crowded in the EU with 25 pupils per class compared to an EU average of 20 pupils. Despite a commitment in the programme for government to reduce class sizes Budget 2017 leaves supersized Irish primary schools unchanged. The INTO said Budget 2017 wasted the opportunity to tackle over crowded classes. Over 100,000 pupils in classes of 30 or more have been abandoned by this government.

The union said the total failure to increase day to day funding for schools will leave primary schools dependent on continued voluntary fundraising and parental contributions. In Ireland lowest spending on education is at primary level. For every 8 euro spent on a primary pupil, 11 is spent at second level and 14 at third level. Today’s budget reinforces that inequality by targeting additional spending at second and third level.

The INTO said primary school leaders would despair at today’s budget. In addition to having to continue to fundraise for essentials the budget provided no additional non-teaching time for teaching principals and will not begin to tackle the promoted posts deficit for at least another year.

Ms Nunan said the budget had failed to tackle pay inequality. “Starting salaries for teachers are now below the OECD average. Pay inequality between entrants since January 2011 and earlier entrants remains in place. She said this would have a direct negative effect on schools. “In the coming months schools will be unable to fill teaching posts as a direct result of government failure to tackle pay inequality.”

Children with special needs were not a priority by this government when framing the budget.  The severe cuts to special education provision and disadvantaged schools have not been reversed despite economic growth. The 15 per cent cut to special education staffing remains in place leaving children with special needs with a reduced education service in a growing economy.