An Bord Snip Nua recommendations

So the inevitable cuts the public sector will be facing will target health and education most. I don’t have too many issues with some of the cost-saving plans. I agree that we have too many schools and smaller ones should amalgamate unless they are expanding every year. We don’t need a school at every crossroad as we’re not living in car-free times. So any small schools, ie those with a teaching principal should group together to form a school with an administative principal. Having said this, I don’t think we need “super sized” schools either where teachers sometimes don’t know the names of their colleagues never mind the kids!
Everything else in the cuts are wrong. I don’t mind the fact that we need to cut three-quarters of a billion euro in education but who will suffer from the cuts? By the looks of things, only a fifth of this money will come in the form of pay cuts.
The rest will affect the children we teach. Cutting 2,000 SNAs ensures that anyone with special educational needs will be at risk of falling further off the radar. In fact, the SEN child’s classmates may also be severely affected if the child’s needs are emotional or behavioural because their teacher will be spending most of the time helping him/her stay on task, on their seat or even on the premises.
Likewise, anyone who can’t speak English as a first language; this child, through no fault of their own, will demand more time of his/her teacher and hence the rest of the class suffer.
And while we’re at it, let’s increase class size again. Everybody knows that the vast majority of classrooms exceed a 30:1 pupil teacher ratio but the government still poop out skewed ratios including support staff etc and purport a 17:1 ratio. With another increase, there will certainly be a lot of classrooms with over 40 children in them. This is all well and good for the pupils who can sit, listen, take in and regurgitate information but visual, kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal or any other learning styles are further screwed.
The troubling thing for me is that we don’t need to do this to education. Restructuring the current system to save money is better than simply cutting what already exists. We need to update the way we’re paid, the way we’re rewarded for work, the way we’re in a crazy hierarchal system where some teachers are still being paid bonuses of about €9,000 p.a. for making sure classroom windows are closed at the end of a school day. We need to remove unnecessary personnel from the system as most could be automated. For example, computerising the roll books to automatically send stats to the DES removes the need for the NEWB. Having a ratio system for allocating SNAs in much the same way as a pupil teacher ratio, eg for every 50 pupils, an SNA is allocated, removes the need for the whole NCSE system. Putting all the grants we get into a single capitation grant, which could be spent as schools saw fit would also save money and rid unnecessary admin. Scrapping ineffective agencies like the teaching council would also save money.
Scrapping the PPDS who have updated their name but not updated their methodologies since they started would be great. I have trained with the former PCSP to give courses and I was still using slides made from years before.  I have no idea what the designers of courses are doing now.
What else?  What about the hierarchy of A and B posts?  I know there’s a moratorium on this but, really what’s the point of them at all?  I believe they cause negative politics in schools and all members of staff should be involved in the management and running of the school, not just a chosen few.  Then there’s the mad 25 tier pay scale.  Surely this can be changed and made more simple.  Why should someone get paid more for teaching through Irish or on an island or in a Gaelteacht? Níl fhois agam.  If you work in a school with all criteria, that’s an extra €6,500 in your pocket p.a.  three thousand of which for the Gaelteacht alone.  Is the cost of living much higher in Ring or Erris compared to Dublin or Cork City?
Now the above suggestions probably aren’t going to knock €796m of the public spend but at least it’s something.  There isn’t a lot of fat to knock off the primary education sector.  I don’t know the inner sancturies of second or third level but I’m assuming there’s at least the same amount of archaic structures going on there.
Apparantly, studies have shown that during difficult economic times that education is one sector you don’t cut.  However, if one needs to save money, it might be a good idea to restructure things so money isn’t wasted at least.  I realise most of the above suggestions are not going to be pallatable to us as teachers but I would rather take the above measures than deny children the best possible opportunities despite our dreadful government and dreadful economic situation.

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