Friday 20 January 2017

Class sizes a national scandal, INTO told

Gordon Deegan

Published 08/04/2015 | 02:30

INTO General Secretary Sheila Nunan during her address at the Irish National Teachers' Organisation annual congress at the West County hotel in Ennis
INTO General Secretary Sheila Nunan during her address at the Irish National Teachers' Organisation annual congress at the West County hotel in Ennis

It is a national scandal that every day 530,000 Irish school children are in the largest class sizes in the eurozone, said the general secretary of the INTO.

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Sheila Nunan told delegates at the INTO annual congress that primary education "is understaffed, underfunded and under resourced".

Addressing delegates in Ennis, Ms Nunan said: "That is why we have the largest classes in the eurozone and schools that run on raffles, parental contributions and charity events."

She said that as a result, school leadership "is at or past breaking point".

Earlier in her address, Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan said that "reducing class sizes will be a personal and political priority for me during 2015".

In a motion passed at the congress, teachers directed the INTO executive to ensure that all infant classes are limited to 20 children and a maximum class size of 24 in all primary schools by September 2018.

Meanwhile, a school principal told the conference that employment rates were up, retail sales were up and developer Johnny Ronan was on the way up.

The only thing not going up, according to Bríd Finnegan, was her salary. She called for Government pay cuts imposed since 2008 to be restored.

Noel Lohan from Ballinasloe Branch proposed the motion for the restoration of pay cuts, and said a huge injustice had been done to teachers, particularly those who qualified since 2011.

The Minister for Public Expenditure, Brendan Howlin, will shortly open up talks with public sector unions on the gradual unwinding of the emergency measures.

Teacher Cara O'Mahony was quoted in yesterday's paper arguing for equality in the workplace.

The article stated that Ms O'Mahony is a member of the INTO's LGBT group.

Ms O'Mahony has asked us to point out that while she supports the LGBT group, she is not a member. We are happy to clarify this.

Irish Independent

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