(Teachers pre-budget protest in Dublin, October 2012)
As a newly-qualified (two years) secondary school teacher, I do not know what it was like to teach pre-austerity. I know only of daily life in a busy secondary school in Cork. I know of big classes, big work-loads and people doing their best. I have a Masters (in my subject) that is not acknowledged by the department. I am not in receipt of the teaching through Irish allowance.
Newly-qualified teachers’ pay is down 15 per cent since 2011. I’m appalled at the increase in the size of classes, at the cutbacks in special education needs resources and the constant air of gloom that pervades.
What happened to valuing the individual and of nurturing their potential? I consider it an achievement just to have spoken to every student by the end of certain classes, never mind meeting their specific educational needs.
I invite Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to spend a day shadowing me through the minefield that is secondary education. Although I might not have time to speak to him.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore have ruled out any row-back on the budget in the light of growing unease among backbench TDs in both Government parties about some of its harsher measures, including cuts in the respite care grant.
The €325 cut in the €1,700 grant for respite care yesterday assumed greater importance as a possible stumbling block for some Labour and Fine Gael TDs.
The new property tax, the €5 a week increase in PRSI and particularly the cuts in child benefit were also being viewed as potentially difficult issues.
Mr Kenny, while accepting that many of the budget changes made to achieve a €3.5 billion adjustment were “unpalatable”, nevertheless insisted that all measures would be implemented.