O'Keeffe orders cut in training support for teachers
EDUCATION Minister Batt O'Keeffe has ordered 100 teachers -- who were involved in training -- back into the classroom.
The teachers were on secondment from teaching duties to provide professional support for primary and second level schools.
At present about 250 teachers are involved in providing training and supports for subject development, school leadership, planning and curriculum development across the country.
But this number is being cut to around 150 from September.
Those teachers who want to remain in the support services have to re-apply and be interviewed. Those who are not re-appointed will either return to their old schools or retire from the service.
The minister admitted to Fine Gael education spokesman Brian Hayes that most of the separate support services provided at present were being amalgamated to save money and to reduce the public sector pay bill.
"My department is currently making arrangements for a reduction in the number of teachers on secondment to the professional development support services in the context of reduced availability of public funding and the need to reduce the public sector pay bill," the minster said.
Support across a range of educational areas would instead be provided by multidisciplinary regional teams working in co-operation with the network of education centres from this coming September, he added.
But Mr Hayes said that important work, such as subject development, leadership in schools, and career development, would be jeopardised following the cutbacks.
"This move will make it more difficult to improve teacher quality and to develop a proper cohort of educational specialists whose task it is to develop the potential of our primary and post-primary teachers," he said.
It would also have an immediate effect in schools on teachers on temporary contracts who would be let go because of the return of the seconded teachers to the classroom, added Mr Hayes.
Primary teachers' union the INTO described the decision to amalgamate and cut support services to schools as extremely short-sighted.
The union said the support services had made an enormous contribution to the quality of primary school education.
Sheila Nunan, INTO incoming general secretary, said the loss of leadership training was a particular concern because of the numbers of principals and deputy principals retiring this year.
She said new principals would have to do without leadership training and with reduced in-school management which is affected by the Government's embargo on promotion.