Calls for Government to freeze proposed teacher reductions in primary schools

TD says staff reductions are crazy in light of Covid crisis and possible restrictions on school opening
Gino Kenny TD pleads for Scoil Ida’s teacher ratio to stay the same for coming year in light of Covid crisis

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny has appealed to the Minister for Education to postpone any proposed reductions in teacher numbers at primary schools across the country. The TD said the yearly changes in teacher allocations which would see some schools lose staff as a result of any drop-in pupil numbers must be postponed.

He said: “All our primary schools will need more teachers and SNAs to cope with the possible impact of the Covid crisis.”

The TD questioned Education Minister Joe McHugh today in the Dáil and raised the proposed teacher reductions at some schools.

He highlighted the situation of Scoil Ida in Clondalkin, whose pupil numbers have fallen below 276 and thus triggered a reduction of one teacher. The TD said that while this was a normal process, the current times were far from normal and such reductions cannot be justified.

“As I understand this staff cut will mean two classes of around 35 pupils. These are kids that have already lost months of schooling and could face further disruption this winter. It will put impossible pressure on teachers and children if these large classes are subsequently only able to take place in schools on alternative days as a result of any future Covid restrictions.

“At the very least the Government should immediately say no school will face a cut in their teacher numbers. In fact, there is a strong case for us to seek to increase the numbers of teachers we have for September across the school system.”

The TD pointed out that at 26 to 1 the current teacher pupil ratio in Ireland was among the highest in the OECD and the highest in the Eurozone.

“I’m appealing to this Government and the Minister to remove the uncertainty that many schools are facing. At the minimum the present allocation should not be reduced in any primary school and we need to look at getting more staff into the system in advance of the winter to deal with any impacts of the Covid crisis.”