Ranking Irish student performance

 

Sir, – Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn (Education, December 10th) rightly states that parents can take much satisfaction from the latest Pisa international comparison in which Irish students scored significantly above the OECD average in all indicators.

As the Minister acknowledges, these results were achieved despite severe cutbacks in our schools. In looking towards future improvements, he identifies the need for curriculum change, support for teachers in implementing change and the careful monitoring of students’ learning.

The TUI fully respects and acknowledges that the curriculum should always evolve, but we would remind the Minister that this requires appropriate and often significant resourcing. The system’s capacity for change has been largely removed by austerity cuts and schools are considerably less well equipped now than five years ago to deal with new initiatives including the proposed reform of the Junior cycle.

The Pisa comparisons follow other recent positive international and national findings for Irish teachers and their schools. Last month’s OECD Government at a Glance 2013 report shows that of 34 countries surveyed, Ireland enjoys the highest level of public satisfaction with the education system and schools – 82 per cent compared to the OECD average of 66 per cent. These findings are echoed by the recent chief inspector’s report which shows that 87 per cent of parents are happy with the teaching standards in second-level schools. Such trust and confidence is the cornerstone of effective public education.

If the Minister wishes to fully realise the vast potential of our education system, the commitment and trust of students, parents and teachers must be complemented by the appropriate investment and clear planning that will ensure further progress. – Yours, etc,

GERARD CRAUGHWELL,

President,

Teachers’ Union of Ireland,

Orwell Road,

Rathgar, Dublin 6.