Irish pupils spend less time on maths
Irish school children spend much less time learning maths and science at both primary and second level than their OECD counterparts.
The latest international survey by the OECD - entitled Education at a Glance - also reports how teachers in Ireland are among the best paid in the developed world.
Overall, the proportion of time at primary level allocated to maths (12 per cent) and science (4 per cent) in Ireland is below the OECD average (16 per cent and 8 per cent respectively). The same is true at secondary level with maths (12 per cent) and science (8 per cent) below the OECD average of (13 per cent and 12 per cent respectively).
On teacher pay , the OECD reports how primary teachers here are the 4th best paid among 35 OECD countries. Second level teachers are ranked between 5th and 8th highest in terms of pay across the OECD.
Teacher unions says the figures for 2009/10 do not reflect the 14 per cent cut in pay and pensions. The Teachers' Union of Ireland described the figures as a ‘history lesson’ today.
But education say the figures reflect -at least in part - the cuts to pay and pensions implemented from early 2010.
Other key findings include:
* Total expenditure on education at 6.3 per cent of GDP in Ireland in 2009 was slightly above the OECD average of 6.2 per cent, reflecting the fact that GDP fell significantly in Ireland in 2008.
* Expenditure per student at all levels of education was above the OECD average. However, when adjusted for GDP per capita they were below the average for primary and third level.
* At second level in Ireland, educational expenditure per student as a proportion of GDP per capita was in the top third of the OECD countries.
* The earnings premium from attending higher education in Ireland is greater than in most other OECD countries. On average, Irish graduates can - over their working lives - expect to earn up to €190,000 more than those who did not proceed to higher education.
* Higher education also appears to protect against unemployment with unemployment rates of 19.5 per cent in 2010 for adults with below upper secondary and 6.8 per cent for third level graduates.
* 27 per cent of four-year-olds were enrolled in pre-primary education, the second lowest of all countries shown.
The OECD reports how much of the additional spending on education between 2005 and 2009 was absorbed by higher pay and pensions for education staff. In Ireland, pay and pensions for staff accounted for 71 per cent of current government spending on education, compared to 62 per cent on average across the OECD.
The report shows how Irish classrooms at primary level are still relatively over crowded compared to the rest of the OECD. The average class size at primary level was 24.1- the OECD average was 21.3.
The Irish education system gains several plaudits in the report.
Nearly 90 per cent of pupils in the State second level , much higher than the OECD average of just over 80 per cent. Almost half of all 25 to 34 year olds in Ireland also complete third level, compared to 40 per cent across the OECD.