Significant cuts to education in the budget would make it almost impossible for teachers to deliver the school curriculum, Sheila Nunan, general secretary of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, said yesterday.
“There is no room for class size increases at primary level where classes are already the second most overcrowded in Europe. Any increase would see schools being unable to deliver the primary curriculum,” she said.
Parents were already subsidising schools and could not be called on to further do so, she added. “Any further cuts will be strongly opposed by the union.”
Don Myers, president of the National Parents' Council post-primary, said the organisation "will be opposing any further cuts to education". "Parents are not in a position to give any more," he said.
“People’s wages have gone down or gone altogether and what’s happening is every time there’s a cut in what the schools get there’s more pressure on the parents. We would be worried about this.”
Breda Murray, principal of Our Lady Immaculate primary school in Darndale, Dublin, said a succession of cuts over the past five years had an “insidious and cumulative impact”. Her 210-pupil school is a Deis (Delivery Equality of opportunity In Schools) Band 1 school, meaning it is in an area of high disadvantage.
Cuts not only to the schools’ budgets but also to parents’ income meant there was “little or nothing left to draw on”.
Separately, president of the Union of Students in Ireland, Joe O’Connor, said his members would “organise and firmly oppose” any possible cut to the third-level student maintenance grant.
He said the Government and the Minister must be aware that students "will not take this lying down, and will take their opposition to the streets, to constituency offices and to the ballot box".
Mr O’Connor said students and their families were “already at breaking point”.
He stressed that the cost of college continued to increase and noted an Irish League of Credit Unions survey “that showed that 84 per cent of families are already struggling to meet the cost of third level”.
He said 75,000 students and their families depended on the grant each year, “a grant that has been targeted in each of the last four budgets.”