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Education Minister Norma Foley said housing and housing issues are not unique to the education sector, so teachers living in urban areas are unlikely to receive a special allowance to cover higher housing costs.
Ms Foley told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland and Newstalk Breakfast that the starting salary for teachers is €38,000, which is higher than in other countries, including the United Kingdom, which has a special allowance for teachers in London.
He also defended, saying that student-teacher ratios in the country are falling. The government has committed to reducing rates and will continue to do so in every budget.
He said discussions are ongoing with Bus Éireann on providing extra buses and extra drivers for the 12,000 additional students who are currently eligible for free school transport. “We will continue to discuss this issue with Bus Éireann, but there were difficulties in obtaining extra buses and drivers.
“This is a huge task.” We will continue to do everything we can. Those who were eligible were given priority.”
Ms Foley said the plan to move the Irish and English Leaving Certificate to the end of the fifth year is part of “necessary” senior education reform, despite a warning from the State Examination Commission that such a move would be “significantly disadvantaged” for male students.
He said the biggest motivating factor in the proposal is to reduce anxiety and stress for students who find it too much to focus on exams at the end of a two-year cycle.
Exam papers will be reviewed taking into account the fact that the exam is taken at the end of the first year of the cycle. This will ensure “absolute justice” as mental health and well-being should be at the forefront.