Promise to look at professional development in education

Richard Bruton tells Impact conference goal is to make Irish education best in Europe

“In absolute terms we don’t spend enough on upskilling – I think we spend €18m on upskilling out of an education budget of €9.5bn”

“In absolute terms we don’t spend enough on upskilling – I think we spend €18m on upskilling out of an education budget of €9.5bn”

 

Minister for Education Richard Bruton has pledged to examine ways of improving continuous professional development within the education sector, including ancillary staff.

Mr Bruton told the Impact trade union’s education division conference in Cork that the Government had set a goal of making Ireland’s education and training system the best in Europe within a decade. More investment would be needed in continuous professional development to achieve this aim.

“One of the things I have learned today from meeting with your executive is that continuous professional development is not just about the teaching professions but also about the many other ancillary players within the education system who are so important to its outreach and its success.

“In absolute terms we don’t spend enough on upskilling – I think we spend €18 million on upskilling out of an education budget of €9.5 billion. It isn’t up to standard. I’m not saying I can reach into my pocket and fix it, but I do recognise it is an area we have to invest in if we want to achieve our goals.”

Special education needs

Impact deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan said the union’s education division represented 11,000 workers, including school secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs) and clerical and administrative staff.

He said if a society was genuine about respecting and cherishing its most vulnerable children – those with special education needs – then it must also respect those who worked with such children by upgrading entry qualifications and introducing continuous professional development for SNAs.

Mr Callinan said Impact fully supported teacher colleagues in their efforts to eliminate pay inequalities introduced during the economic crisis. If the Minister wanted to see the real scandal of two-tier systems and low pay in education, he needed simply look at the Impact members in front of him.

Minimum wage

“Impact represents over 10,000 education workers. Between 80 and 90 per cent of them, including every SNA, will start work on a pre-tax income of around €440 a week. Some will start on minimum wage or less, and stay there for the foreseeable.

“Many will be laid off on no pay for the summer, every summer. Others don’t know today if they’ll even have a job come September.”