The Teacher's Union of Ireland has called for the immediate reversal of a Government decision to suspend the payment of allowances to new teachers.

The decision reduces the pay of new entrants by up to several thousand euro.

Two teachers’ unions have strongly criticised the decision, which they say was taken unilaterally with no consultation.

There are a variety of allowances paid to teachers over and above their basic salary.

A teacher with an Honours hDip gets an additional €1,200 per year, while an Honours Masters degree attracts an extra €5,500.

There are also payments for teachers who undertake supervision duties.

Other allowances include one for island teachers or those who teach through Irish.

The Department of Education suspended all of these payments yesterday, pending a review by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

A spokesperson said that review was expected to be completed by the end of the month.

The ASTI called the decision another disgraceful attack on vulnerable young teachers, while the TUI has called for an immediate reversal.

It accused the Department of an outrageous betrayal of trust that shows contempt for agreed industrial relations procedures.
Ruairi Quinn defends primary school changes

The Minister for Education has defended his policy of increasing the student-teacher ratio in certain small primary schools on a phased basis.

Speaking in the Dáil, Ruairi Quinn denied that the policy was about closing schools, but he acknowledged that some schools might choose to amalgamate of their own volition.

He said it was simply not sustainable to continue with a situation where two teachers operated in a school with 12 pupils, which he said it was a better ratio than in some special needs schools.

The Minister said such a scenario was not fair on the taxpayer or on teaching counterparts in larger schools.

He was responding to a Fianna Fáil Private Members’ motion calling on the Government to reverse the changes to staffing schedules in small schools as outlined in the Budget.

Mr Quinn rejected as sensationalist the claims in the Fianna Fáil motion and said the facts were not being addressed by the Opposition.

He described Fianna Fáil as the Lady Macbeth of Irish politics trying desperately to rub out the mistakes of its past.

Éamon Ó Cuív said the Government’s reasons for cuts in the primary school system were “bizarre”.

Mr Ó Cuív said cutting two teacher schools to one teacher schools will only result in the closure of small rural schools, which he said would lead “to the death of that small rural community”.

Sinn Féin’s Sean Crowe urged the Government to take a more ‘holistic” approach to cuts in relation to small rural schools.

The party’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said teachers will lose positions as a result of the changes.

He said his wife is one of the teachers in danger of losing her position and his son will be in a larger classroom with multiple classes as a result of the changes.