ANOTHER 125 teaching posts for newcomer children who need to learn English are to be axed from September.
The move comes on top of 125 language support teacher cuts already announced in last December’s budget as part of a phased reduction in their numbers.
While it was planned to reduce the total number of these jobs from 1,400 to 900 over four years, half those cuts will now take effect from September.
A Department of Education spokesperson said the cuts, which will mainly affect primary schools, are being speeded up to meet an unexpected rise in teacher numbers needed at second level.
Around 160 more teachers than was allowed for in the 2011 budget are to be approved for the country’s 730 second-level schools, based on analysis of the numbers in classes during the current school year. The remaining 35 posts are expected to be found by achieving efficiencies in other schools programmes without having to introduce further widespread cuts.
The spokesperson said that, while account had already been taken of rising student numbers across the school system, a fall in numbers dropping out is a significant factor. Last week, the department reported that numbers staying on to Leaving Certificate have reached an all-time high, with less than one-in-six of those who started second level in 2004 not finishing school.
“We need to free up teaching posts to cater for the welcome increase in the numbers of students staying in the education system,” the spokesperson said.
However, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) said the cutting of another 125 language support teachers is another attack on disadvantaged and marginalised children.
“The decision flies in the face of last year’s OECD report on literacy and numeracy which found that Irish standards were negatively affected by an increase in international children. This will only make the situation worse,” said INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan. The spokesperson for the department said schools where at least a quarter of pupils are newcomer children should not be affected and the cuts can largely be achieved by strict application of a limit of two years’ language support for pupils entering the education system.
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