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The immediate impact of increasing the pupil teacher ratio (PTR) from 17:1 to 19:1 in Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) programmes will be that approximately 200 non-permanent teachers will lose their jobs over the next year.
Many of these teachers will have worked in a labour intensive, over-worked occupation for periods ranging up to 12 years.
It is unlikely in the present economic climate that their position will receive much attention; as a permanent PLC teacher I consider that the treatment of these teachers reflects badly on the way the entire education system is governed.
Over the last 30 years the PLC sector has contributed to social equity by opening up educational opportunity for learners, regardless of their economic means; and it has served labour market needs by providing vocational education for entrants to the services sector.
However, it still lacks official recognition and is saddled with a timetable structure that is inappropriate to the type of education provided.
The Department of Education press release on the budget cuts states that the PTR for the PLCs is to be “equalised with the PTR in mainstream second level schools”.
But the PLCs are as different to second level schools as the universities. The department no longer has access to the funds that would be needed to reform the PLC system in line with best international practice.
But the minister could recognise that the PLCs have different needs to the second level sector and rescind the increased PLC pupil teacher ratio.
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