No change to pupil-teacher ratio in Budget 2014

Tuesday 15 October 2013 20.09
€5m to be allocated for books to rent programme in primary schools
€5m to be allocated for books to rent programme in primary schools

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has said he has budgeted for the full implementation of the Haddington Road Agreement in calculating education for next year.

The overall budget cut to education is €236m, however more than €190m of that will come from savings made as a result of the agreement.

Around two thirds of second-level teachers, who are members of the ASTI union, have rejected the agreement.

But Mr Quinn said these savings had been "factored in" to today's budget figures and said ASTI members may want to "think again".

According to today's Budget, over 1,250 classroom and resource teachers are to be recruited.

There will be no increase in the pupil-teacher ratio in free schools. €5m will be allocated for a books to rent programme in primary schools.

Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said there would be no changes in Higher Education to either the criteria or payment level of the Maintenance Grant.

He added that 100 breakfast clubs will be created over the next three years for the most vulnerable of children.

Meanwhile, apprentices will have to pay the equivalent of student fees from 2014 as a result of today's budget.

They attend Institutes of Technology for two ten-week periods and will now have to pay €540 per period. This is the pro-rata equivalent of student fees.

It will save the Exchequer €1.6 million and around 2,600 apprentices will be affected.

The Government has also abolished a €20 payment that is paid to long-term unemployed people who begin FÁS or similar courses.

This payment will end for new entrants and will save €6.7m in a full year.

Around 6,500 people will be affected initially.

The Budget also sees an end to a practice that saw some participants on FÁS and Youthreach courses continuing to receive social protection payments.

This measure will yield €5m in savings.

Responding to today's announcements, the Irish Federation of University Teachers said Mr Quinn is pursuing a policy of "reckless endangerment of third-level education".

The ASTI said today's Budget is the first recognition by the Government that schools have reached breaking point because of five years of savage cuts.

ASTI General Secretary Pat King said the Budget does not address the difficulties being experienced by second-level schools in struggling to meet the needs of students.

IPPN President Brendan McCabe said: "After almost half a decade of savage education cutbacks, parents, teachers, principals and Boards of Management are numbed almost to the point of being unable to articulate their feelings."