Budget 2012

There were a number of expectations in this year’s budget from everyone.  Schools were told to expect class size increases of up to 3, which would have given us the accolade of having the biggest class sizes in Europe.  We also expected further cuts to allowances such as yard supervision, promotions, etc.  Furthermore, we were ready to be told that we were going to lose extra SNAs and support teachers.  However, while the budget wasn’t something to celebrate, very few of these major cuts happened.  The Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) and the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) summarised the budget for education very well.
The strangest thing of all was that class sizes didn’t change.  While our class sizes are still way too high, this was the biggest surprise of all.
A lot of the changes will save money but will cost jobs.  For example, small schools will have to increase their enrollments to keep teachers. Certain extra posts that were given for some early DEIS-related programmes are to be abolished.  The government have also simplified the General Allocation Model (GAM), where a school is allocated a number of hours to give extra support to children with learning difficulties.  While simplifying the system is welcome, unfortunately it comes at a cost to schools who have higher percentages of children with English as a Second Language (ESL).  GAM and ESL are being merged and now for every 5 mainstream teachers in a school, an extra post is allocated to the school.  As I said, on paper this sounds great, but in reality it will cost a significant number of teaching posts especially in schools with a higher ESL percentage.
Some cuts have been made to schools.  For example, each child is allocated a certain sum of money when they enrol in a school, which is used to pay for the school’s bills, including heating, lighting, utility bills, teaching resources and anything else really! This has usually covered between 50 and 70% of schools’ costs with fundraising bearing the rest of the load.  A decrease of 3% over the next two years will put further pressures on schools.

Another strange cut was the abolition of the Modern Foreign Languages Initiative.  This initiative gave primary schools the opportunity to teach French, German or Spanish in their schools.  One would assume that having another European language in the 21st century would be essential.  However, it is less emotive than certain other subjects so not too many people will be complaining.
There was only one bit of good news. For years, teaching principals were not allowed to take up support roles in schools.  This rule was changed much to their relief but it isn’t much of a compensation for what is another year of cuts to children around the country.  It seems the theme of the budget this year was to cut anything and everyone who spoke a language other than English or Irish.  Cuts to ESL and the MFLI are not steps in the right direction for immigrants or emigrants and, yes, all the elephants are still in the room.

0 thoughts on “Budget 2012”

  1. It’s really sad that no matter where we go, the budget for education is decreasing every year. It does not really matter if the students doubled into numbers, the budget is still decreased. I think any government should prioritize and give importance to the educational sector because education molds and prepare a person capability and ability to handle life’s circumstances.

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