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Boom babies need 3,000 new teachers

Posted by Francis O' Toole on September 18, 2012

AN extra 3,000 teachers will be needed over the next three years, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn admitted yesterday.

The massive increase will be required to cope with the surge in school enrolments at primary and post-primary level as a result of the baby boom.

The additional recruits will only be enough to keep class sizes as they now stand, Mr Quinn told a conference on education reform.

Primary school enrolments will grow by 64,000, up to 579,000, by 2017, while at second level, numbers will rise by 25,000 to 348,000 and grow further up to 2026.

It is good news for newly qualified teachers searching for work, but it puts pressure on Mr Quinn’s budget in a difficult economic climate.

The cost of 3,000 extra teachers would be €90m a year, based on starting salaries of about €30,000. The question is will the Government provide the extra €90m a year to recruit 3,000 extra teachers, or will Mr Quinn have to seek savings elsewhere to pay for some or all of those extra jobs?

For instance, the boost to employment prospects could be dampened if the minister imposes measures that impact on teacher numbers elsewhere in the system, such as reductions in resource or English language teachers.

A spokesperson for the minister said the need for extra teachers to meet the projected increase in pupil numbers in the short term had already been factored into budgetary calculations.

Meanwhile, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) deputy general secretary Noel Ward warned the minister against reintroducing cuts to disadvantaged schools.

At a separate conference, a second-level school managers’ leader called for sufficient funding from the minister to supportJunior Cert reform.

The proposed new-style Junior Cert, being implemented in 2014, involves changes in how and what students are taught and examined, with plans for more continuous assessment by teachers and less reliance on the June exams.

Ferdia Kelly, general secretary of the Joint Managerial Body (JMB) said Mr Quinn had promised earlier this year that any curricular changes would be adequately resourced.

Mr Kelly said Junior Cert reform was a national project “too important to fail” and said the JMB had engaged five regionally based facilitators to support school management with information, idea-sharing and communication with schools.

“We hope that the minister will be equally determined to fight for adequate development funding at the cabinet table and that schools will not have to struggle for every support from computers to assessment administration to time for teacher development,” he said.

– Katherine Donnelly

Irish Independent

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