300 new teachers are due to be hired in 2018
The Irish National Teachers Organisation has reacted positively to the measures aimed at reducing the pupil to teacher ratio in Ireland.
Paschal Donohoe announced a range of measures in the education system including introducing 1,300 extra teaching posts in schools for 2018.
Irish classes at primary level are currently among the largest in the EU, second only to the UK while Irish classes have an average of 25 pupils compared to an EU average of 20 per class.
Around 100,000 pupils in Ireland are in supersized classes of 30 or more.
Today’s budget will see over 300 extra primary teachers to reduce class sizes and a similar number to provide for increases in enrollment and the replacement of retiring teachers.
Education Budget - a one point reduction in staffing schedule for primary schools announced— INTO (@INTOnews) October 10, 2017
The general secretary of the INTO, Shelia Nunan, welcomed today’s budget announcement on reducing class sizes, saying: “This is the first move to tackle over-crowding by this government. Irish primary schools will see this as progress towards a fairer deal for children.”
“This decision will benefit children in primary schools. Teachers have more time with each pupil in smaller classes and can identify when a child is having difficulties faster.”
Fianna Fail spokesperson on Education and Skills, Thomas Byrne TD, also welcomed the measures, saying: "When we entered into a Confidence and Supply Arrangement we demanded that the Government take action on reducing primary school class sizes.
"We have held the Government to account on this commitment and I am pleased to see that Budget 2018 contains significant additional funding to deal with overcrowding in primary school classrooms. The outcome of this is that average class sizes are set to reach 26:1, the lowest ever figure," he added.
However, whilst welcoming the increase in teaching numbers, the Teachers Union of Ireland have criticised the lack of provision to tackle the pay inequality issue.
President of the TUI, Joanne Irwin said: ‘Budget 2018 is silent on the pay inequality that exists between those who began in the profession before and after 2011, despite it becoming increasingly difficult for schools to employ teachers in particular subject areas when they can secure better paid work in other employments.
"Last month, TUI members overwhelmingly rejected the proposed Public Service Stability Agreement over its failure to appropriately tackle this unacceptable situation," she added.