September 16, 2008

Additional Funds for New Strategy Are Pathetic: Union


FRANK Bunting, northern secretary of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, said that his union is pessimistic about progress in literacy and numeracy in the foreseeable future.

"Primary schools are so under-funded and class sizes are so large," he said. "Teachers were not involved in the delopment of the new strategy and the the additional Pounds 4m per year for all primary schools for literacy and numeracy is pathetic."

He branded the proposed regional action plans and targets "bureaucratic meddling with little relevance to reality".

Mr Bunting continued: "Teachers are key to enhancing outcomes but are not being provided with the correct support.

"Every teacher should be trained to support children with learning difficulties. However having the skills will not improve outcomes if the teacher does not have the time. Academic selection has also had a negative impact upon raising standards for all - too much time is spent on those who could get A, B or C grades."

Mr Bunting said reading recovery was one tool and while expensive, it was effective.

"There was a lot of money spent training up these teachers and then the funding was withdrawn and the teachers went back to class or took retirement.

"Any new strategy should be more long-term. It can take three years to train a reading recovery teacher - not very many got the chance to employ their skills for three subsequent years.

"The Special Educational Needs Review may indicate 'maximised autonomy' but if this is reshuffling a budget that cannot meet present commitments then how could a school provide a guaranteed level of extra support?

"Schools are overloaded, teachers need time to implement strategies."

Originally published by KATHRYN TORNEY EDUCATION CORRESPONDENT [email protected]

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