Budget 2016 was unveiled during the week and it could have been worse! It is the nicest budget we have had in a number of years. However, Budget 2016 is a missed opportunity to undo the serious damage done to second-level schools in previous budgets including the loss of approximately 1,700 second-level teachers.
Some facts of Budget 2016 are:
- 2,260 additional teaching posts to be provided in 2016, including 600 new resource teachers.
- Pupil teacher ratio will go from 28:1 to 27:1 at primary and from 19:1 to 18.7:1 at second level.
I think the extra teaching posts will rebuild goodwill after years of cuts. It is a positive improvement. Teachers have more time with each pupil in smaller classes and they can recognise when a child is having difficulties faster. The USA and Canada are prove that smaller class sizes deliver better learning outcomes.
The ASTI represents 18,000 second-level teachers. The ASTI President Maire G. Ni Chiarba says that ‘we welcome the decision to create up to 500 additional teaching posts at second-level’. However, ‘there have been more than 20 separate education cuts implemented since 2009. Schools are at breaking point. We see Budget 2016 as just the beginning of the reversal of these cuts’. Hopefully she is right. Hopefully the Budgets over the next few years will improve teaching conditions.
ASTI General Secretary Pat King said a well-signaled increase in student numbers in recent years means all schools are doing much more with far less resources. “In the past few years, the number of young people entering second-level schools has increased significantly and this trend is set to continue for the years ahead. Yet during this time, as a direct result of teacher numbers, class sizes increased dramatically. At second-level we have the sixth worst pupil-teacher ratio of 31 OECD countries.
Much more needs to be done but it is a good start by Enda Kenny. However, the Ministers must be aware that additional investment is needed to bring the education system up to 21st century standards. Having the worst pupil-teacher ratio out of 31 OECD countries is not good enough.