The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) represents teachers and school leaders in primary and special schools in the Republic of Ireland. Over the last number of months, our members supported a broad national budget campaign to deliver critical investment in primary education in Budget 2022.
Teachers and parents alike, speaking in one voice, asked the government to continue our work to tackle supersized classes at primary level, the largest in the EU. Smaller classes support inclusion and diversity, allow for more individual attention and help meet the ambition of our government to establish the best education system in Europe.
We welcome the commitment given today to further reduce our classes for the second successive year in this year’s budget. This government appears to have got the message that Ireland is significantly out of kilter with the rest of Europe. Class size reduction must continue to be a multiannual commitment, over the lifetime of this government, to meet the challenge of reducing our class sizes to the EU average by 2025.
The INTO welcomes today’s announcement that administrative principals will be provided to primary schools with two or more special classes. The INTO has long called for additional supports for these schools and we await further information on this scheme being published later this week.
Furthermore, we welcome the increased investment in special education provision and await further detail on the allocation of additional SET teachers (980 teachers) and SNAs (1,165) when the Department of Education reports on the specific breakdown between primary and post primary tomorrow.
As a union, our members have campaigned intensively in favour of tackling educational disadvantage in our primary schools, particularly in our DEIS band one schools which serve our most marginalised communities. We welcome the decision taken today to ringfence €18 million to expand the DEIS scheme and a further €4 million to provide hot meals for DEIS schools.
Expansion of the scheme is only one of the ways in which we can better support our most disadvantaged pupils. We must ensure class sizes are lower in these schools, restore middle-management posts, ensure the provision of in-school therapy supports and protect the early start programme, along other measures.
The pandemic has affected every community in this country, but none more so that our most disadvantaged communities.
Despite their heroic efforts during the pandemic to reopen our schools and manage all manner of crises in their schools, school leaders have been let down in this budget, based on the top-line announcements delivered today. We will study the detail on education spend when it is made available tomorrow and hope the government have listened to our call to guarantee teaching principals release days, restore middle-management posts and expand the supply panel scheme nationally.
A copy of the INTO pre-budget submission is available here.
- €9.2bn allocated to the Department of Education.
- One-point reduction in primary class sizes (Staffing Schedule).
- 980 extra teachers.
- 1165 SNAs.
- 200 school building projects x 30,000 places.
- Additional investment of €30m for school transport scheme.
- €18m DEIS expansion.
- €4m to extend hot meals programme to more DEIS schools.
- Admin principals for mainstream primary schools with 2 or more special classes.
- €50m – ICT grant for primary and post-primary this year (Q4, 2021).
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