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Teachers discuss Croke Park II at conferences

INTO President spoke of “increasing anger” over education cuts.

Image: Teacher in classroom via Shutterstock

VARIOUS TEACHERS’ UNIONS are meeting this week for their annual conferences, at a time when further cuts to education budgets are posed by government.

About 800 primary school teachers gathered in Cork this afternoon for the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation’s (INTO) yearly meeting. The delegates represent 38,000 teachers on the island of Ireland.

President Anne Fay completed her address a short time ago and a discussion about the proposed extension to the public service agreement, or Croke Park deal, is due to take place later this evening.

Fay said there is an “increasing anger” among the profession about cutbacks in the country’s primary schools.

“There are more pupils but relatively fewer teachers, operating costs are rising but government funding is falling, there are more special needs pupils but teaching hours are being cut back, there are more disadvantaged children but supports are being reduced or in some cases eliminated.”

The Fermoy teacher claimed the coalition were caught up in “another discredited election promise” by not investing in education, stating it was a government that offered “more of the same”.

She said that while many of those who caused the economic crash could “avail of economic absolution through bankruptcy here and abroad, public services and public servants have to battle a government determined to make its citizens bear the cost”.

Although the INTO president did not address the Labour Relations Commission proposals on public service pay directly in her speech, it is understood the entire conference will be dominated with talk of the educational and industrial relations issues of concern to primary teachers.

These include the LRC proposals, as well as fair taxation, funding of schools, school leadership, small schools special needs resource teaching, maternity leave, new entrant teachers, special needs, creating employment, sick leave for teachers, school evaluation, school amalgamation, in-school management, tackling disadvantage and school patronage.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn will attend the conference tomorrow, along with the Minister for Education in Northern Ireland John O Dowd.

Meanwhile, business has concluded for the day at the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland’s conference.

A motion urging the rejection of LRC proposals was carried by an “overwhelming” majority.

According to RTÉ News, General Secretary Pat King warned that there will be difficult times ahead as public sector workers are heading into an open dispute with the country’s leadership.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland begins its conference tomorrow in Galway. It will also open with a motion on the extension of the Croke Park Agreement.

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