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‘Scurrilous’ move to increase pupil/teacher ratio

IN recent hard-fought negotiations between the INTO and the Department of Education, standards were set to provide an effective pupil/teacher ratio in order to best serve the young children of this country.

The aim was to bring our system in line with other European countries by reducing class sizes in order to implement the extended revised curriculum and to enable our children eventually to compete in a changing global economy.

We had the money in the last 15 years but the Government dragged its feet, as ever reluctant to invest in our most treasured asset.

Unfortunately it does not see our children as such.

A promise was made to reduce the class size ratio by one each year for four years — levelling at 25/1 next year.

The Government failed to reduce it last year and with the ‘09 budget directive (raising the figure to 28/1), they have gone another step towards setting a regressive system in motion which could effectively end at a level not witnessed since the 1960s. Politicians ask what difference will one more in a classroom make?

We’ve argued that we already have too many and one more is adding to an already overcrowded situation. It doesn’t work in the way they would like the public to think.

Raising the scheduling figure by one count could actually affect an increase of up to 10 in some cases.

An infant school of 60 pupils and three teachers could become one with 60 and two teachers. One teacher is lost and an entire class may have to be accommodated.

In a large school this could mean a division of up to 30 pupils between two or, at best, three classes. The maths is easy. The classes become more overcrowded.

The politicians say (and I’ve heard this aired in public): “I was in a class of 40 and it didn’t do me any harm.”

Such odious comparisons with times past clearly indicate how out of touch our public representatives are.

Let’s go back to Dickensian times when some young children were left on the street. That would sort out the pupil/teacher ratio no bother.

The politicians also say they have invested huge sums in education in the past 10 years — more teachers, improved salaries and per capita grants (since when was a secondary pupil worth twice as much as a primary pupil?).

But it’s all been too late as their efforts amounted to no more than catch-up measures and they’re now happy to accept we will have the highest pupil/teacher ratio and the most populated classrooms in the EU, many in prefabricated accommodation.

This new proposal to target our most vulnerable citizens is insidious, unscrupulous and scurrilous. Our children deserve the best. When will any government wake up and realise that?

Harry Burke

INTO — District 12





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