Education workers call for money to be diverted from fee-paying schools

Resolution passed yesterday by non-teaching staff at Impact’s annual conference

The Impact conference yesterday heard calls for greater co-operation between the teaching unions and Impact in a bid to fight education cuts and improve services

The Impact conference yesterday heard calls for greater co-operation between the teaching unions and Impact in a bid to fight education cuts and improve services

Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 06:00


Education workers have called on the Government to divert money currently paid to fee-paying schools to areas “of greatest need” in the education system.

The resolution was passed yesterday by non-teaching education staff at Impact’s annual conference in Kilkenny.

Speaking in favour of the motion, proposed by the union’s VEC branch, Ger Lyons pointed out that Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, “himself a product of Blackrock College,” recently commissioned a report on the country’s 55 fee-paying schools which receive annual State funding worth over €90 million. “But these 55 schools,” Mr Lyons said, “bring in a staggering €117 million in fees annually. This funds extra teachers and extra-curricular activities.”

Discretionary spending
He said two-thirds of these schools have “discretionary spending” of over €1 million, and one-quarter of them have €2 million in discretionary spending. In the non-fee-paying sector, he said, “savage cuts” in areas such as special needs assistants and psychological support for marginalised students have led to “cash-strapped parents” having to fundraise to pay for basic services.

Impact’s education division represents over 10,000 non-teaching workers in the education sector.

Education cuts
The conference also heard calls for greater co-operation between the teaching unions and Impact in a bid to fight education cuts and improve services.

Guest speaker Michael Moriarty, general-secretary of the Irish Vocational Education Association, questioned the ability of schools to manage amid a succession of cuts to staffing and resources, and said the role of principal is becoming “very unattractive”.

There was “anger” among principals because of proposed salary cuts and a belief they will have to pick up the slack to keep schools afloat when resources are reduced.