PARENTS and pupils are in for a shock when schools re-open after the summer holidays and education cuts begin to bite.
That was the warning from the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland conference yesterday, which heard schools would lose non-permanent staff and be forced to reduce the number of subjects on offer.
Eilis Casey, Limerick south delegate, said three non-permanent teachers in her school faced the prospect of losing their jobs.
“It’s soul-destroying for these young people who take so much pride in their work in the classroom and in their students. They could well face emigration because of government cutbacks.”
She claimed the clock was being turned back 40 years in Irish education, but favoured “graduated industrial action” rather than going on strike.
“Parents are, undoubtedly, in for shocks in September when they find certain subjects won’t be available and there may not be resource teachers, or special needs assistants,” Ms Casey said. “Schools will be faced with very difficult choices and will have stark decisions to make in relation to subject choice, fundraising and how to ensure the most needy students are looked after.”
Patricia Murtagh, a teacher for five years who is currently on a temporary part-time contract, said if there were no hours available next year she would not have a job. “Even if your post is safe for next year, the following year it might not be.
“Teaching jobs are even less secure now that the pupil-teacher ratio has been increased and lots of temporary and part-time teachers are going to find themselves without hours and joining the thousands of others Irish people who have lost jobs in recent times,” she added.
She rejected the Government message that teachers should not complain because, at least, they had jobs. “But the thing is, not all teachers have jobs and not all teaching jobs are secure.”
ASTI general secretary John White said well over 1,000 part-time and temporary second-level teachers could lose their jobs or have their hours and income significantly reduced.
He described the decision to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio as “utterly short-sighted”.
“Squeezing recently qualified, talented and motivated young teachers out of the education service represents the squandering of a national resource. It will damage young people’s education and hinder Ireland’s ability to recover from recession.”
Conference passed motions calling for the protection of working conditions of part-time teachers and for a review of part-time contracts so as to ensure better security of tenure for teachers.
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