14 December 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Co Monaghan Vocational Education Committee on Monday supported a proposal from Sinn Féin’s Sean Conlon, seconded by his party colleague Pat Treanor, calling on the Dept of Education to reverse a Budget provision for a 3% reduction in the income threshold for qualification for third level college grants.
The VEC at its monthly meeting received a comprehensive overview of the implications of last week’s Budget 2013 for the education sector and debated both its favourable and adverse features at some length.
At the outset a document was circulated to the members and detailed by Chief Executive Officer Martin O’Brien, which outlined the main measures in relation to education contained in the Budget.
This stated that the measures listed would secure net savings in 2013 of €90 million, rising to €103 million in 2014 and €123 million in a full year. “When account is taken of these measures, the Dept of Education and Skills will require further savings of some €44 million in 2014 in order to live within the expenditure ceiling set for that year.”
The document went on to detail some of the main budgetary provisions on education as follows:
“Primary & Second Level staffing: At primary level the staffing schedule has been protected at 28:1.
“Similarly, at second level the staffing arrangements in all free schools have been maintained. In DEIS [Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools] schools this figure is 18.25:1 and in mainstream schools it is 19:1.
“Fee-charging schools: At a time of severely reduced resources, priorities have to be made. In an effort to ensure fairness in the education system, the PTR [Pupil Teacher Ratio] in fee charging schools will rise by two points to 23:1 in September 2013.
“A report on the analysis of the tuition income of fee-charging schools will be published in the New Year. This report is expected to show that fee-charging schools have considerable discretionary income and are best placed to manage with reduced public funding.
“DEIS schools: Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) schools have been protected in this Budget. There have been no changes to overall teacher numbers or funding for DEIS schools as a result of this Budget.
“Special Education: Similarly, the number of Resource Teachers (9,950) has been maintained as has the number of SNAs [Special Needs Assistants] (10,575). A total of approximately €1.3 billion will be spent on special education in 2013 – the same as in 2012.
“Reducing the cost of substitution for teachers & SNAs: Sick leave: Civil servants are required to be referred to the occupational health service after …

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