Following a challenging year for primary schools, their pupils and staff, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) has published a pre-budget submission.
The submission sets out the investment needed to support recovery and improve educational outcomes post-Covid.
The first recommendation made by INTO in the submission is to reduce the number of pupils in Kilkenny classrooms.
"Too many pupils in Kilkenny still learn in a classroom of 30 or more pupils, with one in five pupils nationally learning in such crowded environments. At the height of the pandemic, Ireland was the only EU country that had to plan for social distancing in supersized classes of thirty or more," the submission stated.
"The INTO calls on the government in Budget 2022 to reduce class size and make a commitment to better learning outcomes for Irish primary school children."
The report also recommends that heroic school leaders receive more support.
"No school in the country would have been able to open during the pandemic without the incredibly hard work of school leaders. As a result of the recession, the number of middle management posts remains at 73% of what it was in 2009. Budget 2022 must begin the process of delivering the restoration of these assistant principal posts."
Another point raised by INTO is that every pupil deserves to be taught by a qualified teacher.
"Every child in a Kilkenny primary and special school classroom should be taught by a qualified teacher every day. Nationwide substitute supply panels are essential to achieving this.
"Budget 2022 must guarantee the panels remain in future years and roll them out to all schools."
The final point raised in the submission from INTO relates to funding, and the message from the organisation is that 'schools should not have to fundraise for basic expenses'.
"It’s 2021, and primary schools in Kilkenny still have to fundraise to cover basic expenses like lighting, heating and insurance," the submission highlights.
"It is simply not good enough that the parents of Ireland have to contribute nearly €50 million every year to keep primary schools afloat. As the government has said repeatedly during the crisis, primary education is a national priority. It should therefore be fully, not partially, funded."
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