HUNDREDS of trainee secondary schools teachers will be forced to abandon their chosen career because of the government’s budget cutbacks.
Already, more than 800 teaching posts are expected to go because of the increase in class size at second level, although Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe insists that the figure will be closer to 200.
Secondary schools around the county could also face closure after Christmas because of the decision to increase class sizes and reduce the number of substitute teachers.
According to a group of students from the Graduate Diploma in Education in Dublin City University, the budget cuts in education will attack the most vulnerable and voiceless sectors within education.
“Any sane person will agree that leaving 14-year-old boys on their own for 40 minutes is a recipe for disaster,” said the student group, in a statement. “No school will be able to take such a risk, and will either have to send those students home to their parents, or close altogether.”
The group, all second year students from the Graduate Diploma in Education, added newly qualified teachers who survive on substitution until a full-time job becomes available will now be on the dole once January comes.
“Money saved in the education budget will have to be paid out in the social welfare budget, and young enthusiastic teachers will forced out of teaching.”
Describing the cuts in substitute hours, in particular, as “stupid and nasty,” DCU student Barry Keane said: “Our school timetables cannot be changed in the middle of the school year. In many cases our only option is to give up the course. This senseless cut comes just after many of us have paid €8,000 to the university in fees, and this money will be lost along with our entry to the profession.”
The minister says schools will have to do their best to cope with any difficulties when they reopen after the Christmas break. However, both the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation and the group representing almost 400 secondary school principals, the Joint Managerial Board, said the budget changes would make it impossible for schools to function.
Ferdia Kelly of the JMB said schools will not open in January, if the proposal goes ahead.
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