Managers warn of major disruption in schools next year


TEACHERS' MARCH: Gardaí estimated the crowd numbered around 5,000, but organisers said up to 15,000 were out in force at one point.

Ferdia Kelly - representing most second-level school managers - said school principals and deputy principals "are saying loudly and clearly that they are not available to supervise classes where teachers are absent. Failure to act now on this proposal will lead to an unwelcome disruption of school life in January."

The Budget has removed substitution cover for uncertified sick leave and for teachers on school business at second level from January 7th next. Mr Kelly, general secretary of the Joint Managerial Body, said school boards were incensed at the range and depths of the cuts on an already under-funded education service.

"It seems to us that indiscriminate cuts are being introduced right across a whole range of areas with no consideration being given to the impact on the ground of each of these cuts."

The drastic consequences of a failure to maintain the current substitution system, he said, would mean an end to extra-curricular activities, fieldtrips, visits to theatres and cultural events - all the activities that makes a young persons experience of school life so rich and memorable, he added.

The INTO's general secretary John Carr called the Budget an act of "educational vandalism for which children will pay a high price for many years to come. In putting the boot into primary education, Government showed no consideration, no compassion and no conscience".

Addressing the rally, he declared: "We are here to say to Government that the Budget was a full-frontal attack against the education system and against children. This savage, cynical and callous attack on primary education will be resented and resisted in every school, in every parish, town and city in Ireland."

Turning his focus to the Green Party, he criticised their support for the Government. "I say to them go back to the people who supported you. Go back to the people who voted for you. Find out are these the values they want you to stand for."

Mr Carr said: "Make no mistake, the price that children are being asked to pay is significant.Class sizes are being increased to the largest in Europe, funding for Traveller children and special needs slashed, the free book scheme is gone in most schools, library funding ended and there is a five per cent cut in primary school buildings."

The INTO's president, Declan Kelleher said Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe had been honest on Prime Time "when he finally admitted that the primary teaching service would lose 1,000 teaching posts next September. You finally nailed your own spin.Thank you for that moment of honesty, but it's a pity that it took two weeks from the time of the Budget before you were upfront on it."

The ASTI's vice president Joe Moran called the Budget mean-spirited and misguided and that that it would affect every young person in second-level education. Mr Moran said Ireland comes 27th out of 29 OECD countries when it comes to spending on education relative to the country's wealth.

The president of the Teachers' Union of Ireland, Don Ryan, told protesters: "We are embarking on a campaign to defend the future of the children of this country. What you Ministers Lenihan and O'Keeffe did was grievously unpatriotic. You have undermined and damaged the future of a huge cohort of young Irish people."