Budget 2019 fails to resolve funding crisis in education

Tuesday 09 October 2018

Budget 2019 fails to resolve the funding crisis in education, ASTI President Breda Lynch has stated.

Ms Lynch said the recently published OECD report Education at a Glance 2018 finds Ireland in joint last place out of 33 countries for investment in education as a percentage of GDP.

“The cumulative impact of austerity cutbacks on education and schools have been profound. Budget 2019 does little to reverse swingeing cuts implemented during the recession. In 2019, at a time of growing student numbers, curriculum change in schools and significantly-increased teacher workload, our second-level schools will continue to have a lower ratio of teachers to students, and less capitation funding, than they did in 2009,” said Ms Lynch.

The ASTI President said that the 5% increase in the capitation grant for students announced as part of Budget 2019 is not enough: “The capitation grant was reduced by 11% between 2011 and 2015. Schools have to operate like charities, constantly fundraising in order to make ends meet. Inadequate funding impacts on all aspects of school life – from heating, furniture and maintenance to essential equipment, field trips and other activities.”

Teacher numbers

The ASTI notes that the increase in teacher numbers announced in Budget 2019 is due to demographics rather than to an improvement in the pupil-teacher ratio. “In 2009 the then government increased the pupil-teacher ratio. Schools lost vital teaching staff as a result,” said Breda Lynch.

The ASTI President added that schools are also suffering as a result of reductions in guidance and counselling provision and middle-management posts. “These cuts continue to have a direct impact on students’ access to welfare and pastoral care services in schools. While we welcome additional posts for the National Educational Psychological Services, this Budget does nothing to support in-school services and no effort has been made to build upon very modest steps to reversing these cuts. Much more needs to be done.”

Post 2010 entrants’ pay

Notwithstanding the issuing of proposed measures to address new entrants’ salary issues by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform last month, pay equality for post 2010 entrants to teaching remains a top priority for the ASTI.

Ends