Monday 25 March 2019

Irish teachers amongst best paid in world, despite 'austerity' cuts - OECD

Irish teachers among the best paid in the world
Irish teachers among the best paid in the world

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

IRISH teachers are among the best paid in the world, despite the austerity-era salary cuts.

Their starting salaries are about 17pc above of the international average , according to an annual guide to education systems around the world.

The OECD’s Education at a Glance compares data from 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and a number of partner  countries on the structure, finance and performance of the sector.

While the pay of teachers, and other public servants, in many countries suffered as a result of the 2008 crash,  Irish salaries have maintained an edge.

The report used data from 2013 and states that while the international average starting pay for a teacher was the equivalent of €28,036, the figure for Ireland was €32,825.

For a second-level  teacher at the top end of the scale, the difference is reported as  about €`10,000  year, with an OECD average of the equivalent of  €49,896 compared with  €59,988 in Ireland.

Irish teachers do spend more  time in the classroom than their international counterparts and  Irish class sizes are also higher than the OECD average.    

However,  they  don’t have the same statutory  requirement as teachers elsewhere to  spend hours every week on other school duties.

The difference in teaching hours is greatest in primary schools, with an Irish  teacher putting  in 915 hours a year, compared with a global  average of 772.

At second level, Irish teachers  are contracted for 735 hours a year, against an international average of less than 700.

So,  while the annual statutory working time for Irish teachers is either 915 or 735 hours , the international average is  about 1,600 hours.   However,  teacher unions  in Ireland argue that Irish teachers put in a lot of extra time voluntarily.

The wide-ranging report also reveals that while 74pc of three year olds internationally were  in early childhood education  in 2013, in Ireland it was only 46pc.

At the other end of the spectrum , Irish  25-64 year olds are generally better qualified than their international counterparts with 41pc holding a third-level qualification, against an average34pc.

Public funding of education in Ireland is slightly above the OECD average at  €10,098 per student annually, compared with €9,609. While Ireland  spends relatively more than other countries at primary and second level, it is behind at third level.

According to the report, in 2012,  public spending on education in Ireland as a percentage of total public expenditure  was  14.2pc, ahead of the OECD average of 11.6pc.

Ireland’s pupil-teacher ratio of 16:1 and 14:1 at primary and second level, compared with 15:1 and 13:1 internationally.

And  the report also highlights how there has been no change in Irish primary school pupils spending twice as much time on religion and half the amount of time on physical education and science, as the international average.

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