PLC class sizes to rise
Sir, – The immediate impact of increasing the pupil teacher ratio from 17:1 to 19:1 in Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) programmes will be that approximately 200 non-permanent teachers will lose their jobs over the next year (Home News, December 13th). Many of these teachers will have worked in a labour intensive, over-worked occupation for periods ranging up to 12 years.
It is unlikely in the present economic climate that their position will receive much attention; as a permanent PLC teacher, I consider the treatment of these teachers reflects badly on the way the entire education system is governed.
Over the past 30 years the PLC sector has fulfilled two functions: it has contributed to social equity by opening up educational opportunity for learners regardless of their economic means; and it has served labour market needs by providing vocational education for entrants to the services sector. After all that time the sector still lacks official recognition.
Lacking recognition it is saddled with a timetable structure that is inappropriate to the type of education provided. The 30,000 students who take up PLC places every year, not to speak of the staff serving the system, deserve better.
The Department of Education press release on the Budget cuts states that the PTR for the PLCs is to be “equalised with the pupil teacher ratio in mainstream second-level schools”. But the PLCs are as different to second-level schools as the universities: making them equal in this way will aggravate the difficulties of the PLCs.
The Department of Education no longer has access to the funds that would be needed to reform the PLC system in line with best international practice.
But the Minister could at least recognise that the PLCs have different needs to the second level sector. He should rescind the increased PLC pupil teacher ratio. – Yours, etc,