A national teachers’ association has slammed the introduction of new school reforms in Ireland, accusing the government of being too lax in tackling “a serious problem”.
Key points:The reform will mean all schools in the country are required to have a minimum number of students for every teacher and staff in a school, including in the first yearIt is expected to raise a school’s total number of pupils from around 1.8m to around 2.4mStudents will now be required to attend a minimum of five school days a week, with the majority spent at home in a classroom, or in a sports room or gymnasiumThe new policy, which is due to come into force on July 1, will see all schools and colleges in the island state of Ireland being required to adopt the same curriculum, with all students attending a minimum five days a weeks in class.
Teachers unions are opposed to the new curriculum because it requires them to spend up to 15 hours a week at home.
They said it is a waste of resources and a step backward towards a state that no longer has a single school for every single child.
However, Minister for Education Richard Bruton said that the reforms were the best available, which were part of a comprehensive reform programme.
“It’s good that we’ve come to the stage where we’ve got a plan for a reform programme and we’ve put the right focus on that and we’re taking the right steps to get the best results from it,” he said.
“This is a good time to introduce some reforms, and it’s not just the reform of school hours that is being introduced.”
We’re introducing a plan to make sure that we’re making sure that every child in every community gets the best education possible, and that’s a big challenge for the country.
“Teachers’ unions have warned that the reform will cause a loss of jobs, and a decline in the number of teachers.
The new curriculum will also bring an increase in staff costs and will see some schools and centres closing, while others will be able to reopen.
The reforms will come into effect on July 15.
A spokesperson for the Irish Education Union said the reforms had not been carefully considered and it was “quite a lot of work” to change everything at once.”
That’s not going to be possible in the next few months,” he added.”
What we are seeing is a government trying to introduce new policies that are going to cost teachers their jobs, while also reducing the number and the quality of teachers that are available.”‘
The system is broken’Teachers said the reform was not designed to solve the teachers’ strike, which saw thousands of staff walk off the job over pay cuts, hours and conditions.”
The system in Ireland is broken and there is no system in place to deal with it,” said union general secretary Brendan O’Neill.”
There is no way for us to put this into effect in a sensible way without compromising the education system.””
The new system means that all schools must be fully compliant with the current school hours policy, with only a small number of schools able to opt for a separate curriculum, and with no flexibility for the schools to adapt to the demands of the new regime.
“Mr Bruton told The Irish Independent that the changes were not intended to replace existing school hours, but to improve the situation.”
For some schools the new rules will be a real relief and a real change for them,” he told The Independent.”
In some cases they will be quite large changes, but that is the nature of the reform.
“However, unions said the new policy will mean schools will be unable to meet the needs of students.”
While we will not be abandoning our schools completely, it is clear that the government has decided that they will not have enough teachers to manage this complex, evolving, and evolving curriculum,” said the union’s education spokesperson, Catherine Kelly.”
If they cannot keep up with the needs and the needs-based approach that schools have been using for years, we believe that we must have the capacity to deliver more than what is currently available.
“As we have seen, it will not just be an immediate, short-term fix but it will take decades to ensure that schools and students are not just meeting the needs but being able to meet them as well.”