More than 100,000 pupils ‘crowded out of education’

INTO calls for cap of 20 pupils per class to ensure children reach their full potential

The INTO says  class sizes in primary schools should be capped at 20 pupils to ensure teachers can give students the individual attention and support they need. Photograph: iStock

The INTO says class sizes in primary schools should be capped at 20 pupils to ensure teachers can give students the individual attention and support they need. Photograph: iStock

 

More than 100,000 children in primary school classes of more than 30 pupils are being “crowded out of education”, according to the country’s largest teachers’ union.

Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) president Joe Kileen told delegates at the opening of the union’s annual congress that smaller classes are vital to ensure every child has the chance to reach their full potential.

“Smaller classes really matter, especially for younger children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Mr Killeen told delegates.

“We will continue to campaign on class size until every child has the room to bloom and every teacher the room to teach and teach to the best of their capacity.”

He said class sizes in primary school should be capped at 20 pupils to ensure teachers can give students the individual attention and support they need.

Mr Kileen also warned that smaller schools with a teaching principal and more than one class in each classroom have a higher pupil numbers per teacher than larger schools?

“It makes no sense unless our government values rural children less favourably than children being educated in an urban setting,” he said.

EU figures indicate that Irish primary school classes are among the most overcrowded in the union, second only to the UK.

Ratio

However, the Government has pointed out that record levels of investment has resulted in the pupil-teacher ratio at primary level being reduced to the lowest ever level recorded of 26:1.

Mr Killeen also indicated that pensions are set to be a new battle-ground for teachers union once the new entrant pay issues are resolved.

Austerity-era pay cuts resulted in pensions are now based on career-average earnings, rather than a teacher’s final salary.

Mr Killeen said the three teachers’ unions have agreed this week to make common statements, calling for the re-introduction of the single public service pension scheme.

“We contribute to achieve a deferred income throughout retirement. To ensure this ‘deferred pay’ retains its value, parity with serving teachers must be maintained,” he said.

“We will ensure that future negotiations on pay includes negotiations on our pension scheme, to both maintain parity for the standard scheme and seek the re-introduction for the single public service pension scheme.”