Workers irrelevant to Action Plan Man

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
07 February 2018

Commenting on the 2018 Action Plan for Education, Labour Education spokesperson, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has said that Minister Bruton’s latest Action Plan doesn’t take education staff into account.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“The 2018 Action Plan for Education has many fine ideas such as implementing a foreign language strategy, introducing computer science in schools and initiatives to promote STEM in schools. Without an adequate supply of teachers across all subjects that’s all these initiatives will be – ideas.

“Reports released last month show that there has been a 62 per cent drop in those applying for teaching training courses. If the Taoiseach and the Minister for Education truly want Ireland to have the best education system in Europe, then they need excellent motivated teachers.

“In this year’s Action Plan for Education, Minister Bruton has emphasised that subjects such as Computer Science and foreign languages like Mandarin Chinese are to come on stream. While this is welcome, how is the Minister supposed to attract these highly-skilled graduates at a time when it is difficult to fill posts for more traditional subjects?

“We can’t continue to have a situation where newly qualified teachers feel they have no choice but to travel abroad for decent pay and conditions. Or when the Minister blames career breaks for his own failures.

“As the Minister for Action Plans, it is time Minister Bruton produced a road map for pay equalisation for new teachers. The Minister for Education is almost two years in office, in that time he has produced no roadmap and refuses to accept the principle of equality of pay. Last year, the government negotiated a pay deal which ignored the issue, leading to the outright rejection of a pay deal by the INTO for the first time in their history.

“What is extremely surprising about the Minister’s latest Action Plan, is that the Minister does not go into detail as to how his Department intend to ensure that SNA allocations are provided to schools in a before the end of Q4. Special Needs Assistants have balloted to take industrial action unless they are provided with their school allocations before the end of the summer term. Ireland has close to 14,000 SNAs working in our schools system, who provide essential support for some of the most vulnerable children in our classrooms. Special Needs Assistants are not just fillers in our school system- they play a fundamental and crucial role, and it is high time the Department of Education treated them accordingly.

“Maybe for his next Action Plan, the Minister might consider the workers who he expects to carry out the work involved in these plans.”

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