Findings of a new independent survey commissioned by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) highlight the hugely damaging effects that cutbacks have had on the education system. The survey shows that on average, schools will have lost over five middle management positions by the start of the next school year. Findings also indicate the impact on students of reduced family incomes. The survey was carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes among teachers last month. TUI’s annual Congress takes place in Wexford this week.
Speaking today, TUI President Bernie Ruane said:
“These findings show the massive impact that cutbacks have had on schools all around the country. In particular, the loss of posts of responsibility such as year head have severely damaged the support framework so important for marginalised students, with schools having lost an average of over four posts to date with an average of a further 1.2 set to fall by the wayside next year. This is making it increasingly difficult to intervene early and effectively when students are experiencing difficulties, a problem that will be greatly worsened when cuts to guidance counselling provision become effective in September.
Over a period of time when teacher salaries were cut by up to 20%, workload increased significantly as a result of the loss of teaching positions and posts of responsibility, with 33% of respondents estimating an increase in workload of more than seven hours a week over and above the additional commitments of the Croke Park Agreement.
Worryingly, teachers have noted the significant impact that a reduction in family incomes has had on the ability of students to purchase textbooks and specialist materials for schools, with 59% of respondents believing that reduced family incomes have had a significant detrimental impact on students’ capacity to purchase school books and other general classroom materials.
These findings highlight the realities of an austerity agenda in education and the stark challenges that face teachers and students on a daily basis. Now more than ever, we need to invest in our education system to ensure that all students are given every opportunity to fulfil their potential. Principals and teachers are doing everything they can to paper over the cracks and provide a quality frontline service but this will be severely diminished in the event of further attacks on the system.”
- Schools have lost an average of over four posts of responsibility (middle management positions that ensure the safe running of schools) as a result of cutbacks to date, with the expectation of a loss of an average of a further 1.2 posts this year.
- 62% of all schools reported an increased workload for teachers as a result of a loss of staff due to cutbacks
- General day to day administration (66% of respondents), discipline & behaviour issues (62%) and year head structures (60%) and pastoral care/tutorial support (60%) were identified as having suffered a medium to high impact due to the loss in posts of responsibility
- As a result of staff reductions and loss of posts of responsibility, 33% of respondents estimate their workload has increased by more than seven hours a week – 56% of principals/deputy principals report an additional 10 or more working hours per week
- 59% of respondents believe that reduced family incomes have had a significant detrimental impact on students’ capacity to purchase school books and other general classroom materials, with 56% believing that there has been a significant detrimental effect on the ability to purchase specialist materials for some subjects
- 51% of respondents believe that reduced funding levels have had a moderate to significant impact on providing special needs supports