Class sizes need to be capped at no more than 20 students to ensure teachers and children are not “crowded out” of education.
Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) president Joe Killeen said it is time, “once and for all”, to cap class sizes so “every child has the room to bloom and every teacher the room to teach and teach to the best of their capacity”.
He called for a return to 2009 pupil/teacher ratio levels for smaller schools with teaching principals.
“Why would schools with a teaching principal and more than one class in each classroom have a higher pupil number per teacher than larger schools?” said Mr Killeen.
“It makes no sense unless our Government values rural children less favourably than children being educated in an urban setting.”
Primary schools are also facing a “crisis” in funding, Mr Killeen said, and the union would be “stepping up its campaign” on this issue.
“One euro per pupil per day will not run a school and provide the standard of education we want to deliver,” he said. “Budget 2019 only delivered a modest restoration of 5%. Where is the other 6% that was taken from our schools at the time we bailed out the bond-holders?”
Mr Killeen also urged that the review of the Deis (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) scheme must be completed and its recommendations acted upon.
“School is a refuge for so many of these children.”
Mr Killeen also said the workload of school principals is increasing, and school leaders are “overworked, underpaid, and struggling under never-ending administrative work, schemes and initiatives”.
“There is a conveyer belt of initiatives emerging from the Department of Education and Skills and other state agencies,” he said.
Mr Killeen said that, as a teaching principal, he had seen at first-hand “the level of work increasing, but the support lessening”.
“We need and have campaigned for one release day per week for our teaching principals,” he said, addinf that the union had campaigned for the outstanding award for principals and deputy principals to “finally be paid”.
The establishment of a forum on workload, initiated by the INTO and attended by the Minister for Education in 2018, “represents a significant step in addressing workload and initiative overload”, he added.
Mr Killeen said the INTO fully supported its colleagues in Fórsa on its campaign for respect and fair conditions for all school secretaries.