Irish teachers among highest paid in OECD


TEACHERS IN Ireland are among the best paid in the world, according to a new international survey.

The OECD Education at a Glance survey reports that primary teachers here are the fourth best paid among 34 OECD countries. Second-level teachers are ranked between fifth- and eighth-highest in terms of pay across the OECD.

Teacher unions says the figures for 2009-2010 do not fully reflect the 14 per cent cut in pay and pensions. The Teachers’ Union of Ireland has described the figures as a “history lesson”.

The general secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), Sheila Nunan, acknowledged the report shows teachers’ salaries in Ireland are higher than the international average. But she said the report did not take into account the full impact of pay and pension cuts for teachers or the cut in pay for new entrants.

Department of Education sources say the figures reflect, at least in part, the cuts to pay and pensions implemented from early 2010. They also point out that the OECD figures do not include the various allowances paid to teachers for qualifications and other benefits.

The OECD. the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, is a body comprising 34 countries whose aim is to share information and promote policies that will improve the economic and social wellbeing of people around the world. As well as many countries in the EU, its members include the US, Australia, Japan and Chile.

The OECD report also shows second-level teachers here are required to spend much less time working in school than their OECD counterparts.

In Ireland, second-level teachers are required to spend 735 hours working in school, compared to an OECD average of 1,171 hours and an EU average of 1,051 hours.

In terms of actual teaching time, the report states this is higher than the international average at both primary and secondary level in Ireland.

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 with 62 per cent on average across the OECD.

The report also reveals 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) both ranking below the OECD average of (13 per cent and 12 per cent respectively).

Other key findings include the fact that 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.

Furthermore, it says expenditure per student at all levels of education was above the OECD average. However, when adjusted for GDP per capita it was 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, it says.

In addition, 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

The Irish education system gains several plaudits in the report. Nearly 90 per cent of pupils in the State complete 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 with 40 per cent across the OECD.