Fixing the education system


Madam, – Ed Walsh’s article (Education Today, January 25th) pioneers a bizarre new approach to education excellence – starving Irish schools and pupils of even more resources.

His assertion that increasing spending does not make schools better is based on a false premise. The increase in Irish education spending indicated has much to do with capital projects necessary to take account of changing demographic needs and the full inclusion of students who do not have English as a first language and those with special educational needs. Throwing around figures without such a critique is at best an academically flawed exercise and at worst a mischievous one.

Interestingly, he fails to acknowledge the strong science performance when addressing the concerns over reading and maths competencies set out in the recent Pisa international survey on student performance. He neglects to factor in some other vital information. For example, he fails to reference that a greater number of students for whom English is a second language or who have special educational needs were among those surveyed than in previous reports. TUI fully endorses the inclusion agenda, but we contend that it is too poorly resourced to ensure positive learning for all students in an education system riven with inequalities.

Mr Walsh decries what he terms “the major salary increases” enjoyed by teachers yet neglects to mention that they, along with the rest of public servants, earn considerably less than they did two years ago in an increasingly more difficult classroom environment.

After failing to blacken the name of a profession with facts, he resorts to referencing “frequently used” threats to the Leaving Cert by teacher unions, a strange fictional flourish with no grounding in reality. TUI would never resort to such a threat.

Meanwhile, his apparent belief that the incoming Minister for Education and Skills should so seismically amend the role of the Irish language in schools unilaterally and without consultation is, frankly, an insult to critical thinking and democracy.

Like most education stakeholders, TUI welcomes fair and reasoned discourse and on all aspects education in Ireland, even if we may not agree with every assertion. Mr Walsh’s provocative and flawed submission adds nothing constructive to the debate. – Yours, etc,



Teachers’ Union of Ireland,

Orwell Road,


Dublin 6.