In its initial reaction to Budget 2024, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said the information available so far suggests that the Government is in no way serious about tackling the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, an approach it says is ‘as baffling as it is worrying’.
TUI had identified and called for an enhanced teaching allocation at second level and a restoration of posts of responsibility as key measures to tackle the crisis.
The Union has also said that it is deeply regrettable that the political refusal to properly address the third level funding crisis appears set to continue.
The announcement that those in the early years of second level will receive free schoolbooks is a step in the right direction, but this should have been extended to Senior Cycle and schools that utilise electronic devices should not lose out in terms of this additional funding.
Comments from TUI General Secretary Michael Gillespie:
No political will to tackle teacher recruitment and retention crisis
‘We are still awaiting full detail, but it is bitterly disappointing that today’s Budget appears to be silent on measures that would tackle the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, and as a result it is inevitable that the already dire situation in many schools will worsen.’
‘We have consistently made clear the colossal problems that this has created in the provision of education so the Department’s approach is as baffling as it is worrying and will ultimately restrict the range of subjects available to students.’
‘A failure to restore posts of responsibility would be an unbelievably shortsighted decision and a huge blow to both the career prospects of teachers and the smooth running of schools.’
‘The announcement that those in the early years of second level will receive free schoolbooks is a step in the right direction, but this should have been extended to Senior Cycle and that those schools that utilise electronic devices should not lose out in terms of this additional funding.’
‘Also, it must cover the full price of books and any new administrative duties within schools that arise as a result of the new scheme must be properly resourced.’
Third level funding crisis
‘It appears that the political refusal to properly address the third level funding crisis will continue.’
‘The damage already caused is clear. It is unacceptable that student to staff ratios at third level have been allowed to worsen to 23:1, a ratio significantly above the OECD average of 17:1. This ratio results in larger class sizes and less access to laboratories, equipment, materials, libraries and tutorials.’
‘As a result of this chronic underinvestment, it is hardly a surprise that in recent years, the time and support that staff can provide to students has come under huge pressure, with significantly less opportunity available to interact with students individually or in smaller groups. It is those students who require the most additional support who lose out, and this obviously has an effect on third level drop-out rates.’
Removal of Post Leaving Cert (PLC) fees
‘We welcome the removal of Post Leaving Cert (PLC) fees as a positive development.’