Education gains 'can be kept with small pay cuts'
Published 02/02/2012 | 05:00
A post-primary principals' leader says that it would be better to cut teachers' pay than to reduce staffing in schools in order to save money.
Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) said a small cut in salary would be enough to sustain the gains made in the education system over the last 15 years.
Mr Byrne warned of the threat, particularly to vulnerable and disadvantaged students, from the ongoing cuts in schools.
He said it was necessary to safeguard the numbers working in the system and asked would a pay cut be "better than death by a thousand cuts".
He said that the vast majority of teachers were doing a brilliant job, with fewer resources than they would like.
Two per cent of the teachers' pay bill is the equivalent to paying about 700 teachers, or what would be lost in second-level schools next September.
Mr Byrne's views emerged as education cuts affecting guidance counselling, small schools and teaching of foreign languages in primary schools were debated in the Dail and by the Oireachtas Education Committee.
Mr Byrne provoked a strong reaction from teacher unions. Pat King, general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, said it was not the responsibility of teachers to put their hands in their pockets to pay for education.
"Suggestions that teachers should pay gives scant regard to the fact that one quarter of our teachers are temporary and part-time, earning very low salaries".
John MacGabhann, general secretary of the Teachers' Union of Ireland said new teachers and those not on full hours had been particularly badly hit by a litany of cuts.
"We expect agreements that we have entered into in good faith to be honoured on all sides and we also expect that any matters related to salary will be addressed in the proper... settings," he said.
An Irish National Teachers' Organisation spokesman said teachers had already absorbed pay cuts and a pension levy and were "doing more for less".