The impact of Budget 2013 on education services was discussed in depth at the most recent meeting of Co. Louth VEC.
Among the issues discussed were the changes announced regarding the provision of substitution cover for absent teachers and special needs assistants, the reduction in supports to Further Education and Training (FET) scheme participants and the reduction by some €13.2 million in the VEC sector’s budget in 2013. However, the issue that attracted most debate was the reduction announced in the pupil teacher ratio (or PTR) at post-Leaving Certificate level.
Dr. Pádraig Kirk, CEO of Co. Louth VEC, told the committee that,
“it was announced that the PTR for Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) programmes was being harmonised with mainstream second level schools, from 17:1 to 19:1.
“For Co. Louth this means we stand to lose up to eight teaching posts across our two further education colleges, O’Fiaich Institute of Further Education and Drogheda Institute of Further Education”.
The CEO informed the committee that the announcement had come as a major blow to the PLC sector and would have a profound impact on current levels of provision. He said he had already held meetings with the management of both colleges to “quantify the impending impact and plan for the inevitable”.
“The day of enrolling additional numbers of students over our capped number of places is coming to an end. “The reduction in teacher allocation of the magnitude now expected will no longer allow us to enrol additional numbers of students, courses will have to be cut.
“This is bad news for everybody - the Committee, college management, teachers, and not least, our students”.