Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Why cutting budgets will dilute teaching talent

Teachers are very much aware that we are in a period of austerity. All our schools are expected to make huge savings and next year's school budgets have already taken a massive hit.

To fill places, keep teachers and make ends meet, many of our grammar schools have been forced to open their doors to any Year 8 child - regardless of ability.

This, naturally, means a lot fewer pupils for our secondary schools and it follows that a much higher percentage of those applying there will be of very weak ability.

Falling secondary school numbers will, of course, be reflected in increased teacher redundancies in these same secondary schools, which means the quality of teaching will also be diluted.

The Department of Education insists that no school can operate a deficit, so redundancies will have to be made - no matter what. The books have to be balanced.

Given this ever-changing state of circumstances, it seems utterly unrealistic and, indeed, incomprehensible that the Department of Education's inspectorate continues to demand that all schools, including financially struggling secondary schools, must somehow up their game by improving their GCSE A-C pass-rate.

As Spock was often heard saying to Kirk on the Starship Enterprise, "That does not compute, captain."

But, then, many teachers would say that our education inspectorate is living on another planet.

T J McCLEAN

Belfast

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