As indicated by affiliate unions:
At both primary and post-primary levels, the pupil-teacher ratio has increased, resulting in increased class sizes. Schools in disadvantaged areas and small primary schools, in particular, have lost teaching staff. Specific teaching supports for Traveller pupils have been withdrawn.
Schools are also taking unprecedented steps such as reducing or dropping programme and subject options, withdrawing higher level options, combining higher and ordinary level class groups for some subjects, combining class groups from different years in some subjects, imposing quotas on the number of students allowed to study specific subjects, reducing the duration or number of class periods, e.g. reducing the tuition time allocated to subjects, and reducing tutorial care classes. In reality, the curriculum experience is contracting for many students.
Teachers’ salaries have remained the same since December 2009 due to a national agreement. However, teachers’ salaries were reduced by approximately 14 per cent prior to the agreement. Salary scales for all new public servants, including teachers, have been reduced by 10 per cent since January 2011. All new teachers must start on the first point of the salary scale, which means their salary reduction has been about 13-14 per cent in total. All teachers continue to advance on the incremental salary scale.
Teachers’ allowances, which they receive in addition to the salary scale, are under threat. No allowances (e.g. supervision, qualifications) have been paid to new beneficiaries since 1 February 2012.
The 2012 annual congresses of the three teacher unions (Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, Teachers Union of Ireland) all passed motions seeking to redress the situation of the reduced salaries for new entrants to teaching. The three teacher unions continue to engage through the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in the trade union fight back against austerity. A specific response from the teacher unions was to contribute funding to the Congress to enable it to establish a specialist research unit to develop new economic policies for a better, fairer Ireland. The Nevin Institute can be found here.
The three teacher unions continue to negotiate with the Department of Education and Skills and Government to ensure no further erosion of teachers’ working conditions. The three teacher unions together commissioned an actuarial report on pensions to show that, under new pension arrangements, due to be introduced for new entrants to the public service this year, teachers will pay more into their pension fund, for a longer period of time and will have fewer benefits.
The education budget in Ireland for 2012 has been reduced by 1.7 per cent in comparison to 2011. The Government proposes to reduce the education budget further in 2013 by 2.7 per cent. Ireland is one of only three EU countries to reduce spending across a range of education areas, including student support, teachers, and infrastructure, according to the Government report. It says the crisis is severely affecting prospects for young people in particular, with youth unemployment now over 20 per cent across the EU. Ireland has one of the highest levels at over 30 per cent.