News & Media

Budget is a missed opportunity to transform Education in Ireland

13 October 2020

Statement by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
Spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade
Aodhan

Budget 2021 is a missed opportunity to transform Education in Ireland according to Labour Education Spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

Speaking after the announcement of Budget 2021, Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“While I welcome the reduction in the pupil teacher ratio by one point to 25 pupils per teacher at primary level. Given the scale of the once in a generation public health crisis we are facing now, the Government could have gone further. Teachers and schools are under considerable pressure and we believe the Government should have expanded the reduction in the pupil teacher ration to secondary school’s too. The Minister needs to ensure that this reduction in the pupil teacher ratio is passed onto the 231 DEIS primary school’s serving the most severely socio-economic disadvantaged areas in the country.

“In relation to supports for struggling families the Government could have been far more ambitious by giving all children access to free schoolbooks which would cost around €20 million.  The Government had an opportunity to make free books a reality for all schools, but instead didn’t even expand the pilot scheme that commenced in September. The Government should have also included a meaningful increase to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance to account for the significant drop in income experienced by many families this year.

“Labour welcome’s the additional primary and secondary teaching posts and in particular the 87 additional posts at primary level to guard against schools losing teaching posts are welcome, however we believe that Government should have gone further, schools are really struggling at the moment and an increased allocation allowing for a further reduction in the pupil teacher is needed to help them get through this crisis. The additional funding for teacher education to address the shortage of Post-primary teachers in Maths, Physics & Spanish is also welcome. However, we believe that the Government needs to address pay inequality and the set out a roadmap to ending the inequality for newly qualified teachers.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin continued:

“There are measures within this Budget that are welcome, however on the whole Budget 2021 is a missed opportunity to genuinely transform Education in this country. The Government should have gone much further to reduce the pupil teacher ration which is one of the highest in the OECD and there are no meaningful attempts to cut costs for struggling parents.