Monday 11 December 2017

Quinn: Our education system is a 'long way from world class'

Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn
Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn

Education Editor

THE Irish education system has a “long way to go to become world class”, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn admitted today.

He said the assertion that Ireland had one of the best education systems in the world “was frequently trotted out in the past, but blatantly wasn’t true”.

Mr Quinn said it was based on nothing other than “a feel good factor that was communicated to us at home by the greater Irish diaspora who felt, for whatever reason, that it was better than what their children were experiencing in other parts of the world.”

The minister was speaking at a conference on maths education, at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, ahead of the first Cabinet meeting since the summer holidays.

The Cabinet meeting is taken place against a backdrop of rising concern and anger within the education community over the prospect of further cuts in the October budget.

Figures released by the Department of Education  this week show how, even without the much feared increase in the pupil-teacher ratio, primary school classes are continuing to grow simply because more pupils are entering the system. Almost one in four pupils is in classes of 30 or more.

Meanwhile, second-level teacher numbers have fallen by 650 at a time when enrolments have grown by 3,800

Mr Quinn said he would be “bringing all of that to the table” with his Cabinet colleagues “and at the end of the day it will be a collective decision”.

He said people should “take some heart from the fact that three out of the four members of the Government Economic Management Council are teachers”. That is a reference to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.

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