§ 56. Mr. HUGH BARRIE
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether, under the new scheme of the National Board of Education, the first grade teachers are allowed variation in attendance of thirty-five, and second grade of thirty, without loss, but the first-class teacher suffers if there is a fall in his average attendance of even one unit; and whether, seeing that such conditions create dissatisfaction and lower the general quality of the service, he proposes to take any action in the matter?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The hon. Member appears to be under a misapprehension. The Commissioners of National Education inform me that the salary of a teacher is not reduced until the average attendance falls, in the case of a first-of-first grade teacher from seventy to below thirty-five, in the second of first grade from fifty to below thirty-five, and in the third grade from thirty to below twenty. The reference to the case of a first-class teacher is not understood, as classification was abolished in 1900. When the average attendance in the case of a teacher of any grade falls to the minimum, it is evident that a further drop of even one unit will result in a loss of salary.
§ 57. Mr. HUGH BARRIE
asked when it is proposed to give effect to the recommendations of the recent Vice-regal Committee of Inquiry into Irish primary education?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Commissioners of National Education have the recommendations of the Vice-regal Commission at present under consideration. It cannot be stated when a decision in regard to them will be arrived at.
§ 58. Mr. HUGH BARRIE
asked the Chief Secretary whether, under the former system, national school teachers in Ireland were classed third, second, second-of-first, and first-of-first, the successive steps being attained by examination and good school-keeping, second-class requiring an average attendance of thirty pupils, first-class and first-of-first requiring an average of thirty-five pupils; whether to first division of first-class was attached the highest salary attainable by a teacher, and it usually took a teacher ten to fifteen years to reach the first division of first-class, whether under recent changes the average attendance of first grade was raised to seventy from thirty-five; whether the effect of this change is to abolish 4,000 positions carrying the highest salary, and has reduced 134 hundreds of teachers formerly classed first-of-first to second and even third grade under the new scheme; whether after the new scheme was brought into operation an assurance was given by the National Board that no teacher would suffer under it; and what steps he intends to take to have justice done to the teachers who have been penalised?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Commissioners of National Education inform me that the facts are generally as stated in the first paragraph of the question. Under the former system the first-of-first class salary was the highest obtainable, but there was no fixed time for a teacher to attain that rank—many teachers never reached it. The average attendance for the present first-of-first grade is seventy, and for the second of first-grade fifty, but in neither ease is the salary reduced unless the average falls below thirty-five. No equitable comparison can be drawn between the salaries of the old first-class and the present first grade. The latter represent much more than the former, as they include the equivalents of results fees, gratuities, etc. The effect of the change of system is not as stated in the fourth paragraph. There are many more highly-paid teachers in the service now than before the change. The Commissioners claim that they have fulfilled the promise given in the circular issued in 1900, that every teacher in the service on the 1st April of that year would be awarded an income equal to the average amount drawn from State sources during the previous three years. The matter is not one in which I can intervene.
§ 59. Mr. HUGH BARRIE
asked the Secretary whether, under the new scheme of the National Board, teachers of the highest qualifications suffer severely both in salary and in pension by a fractional fall in the average attendance of their pupils; whether this presses with harshness on a large number of teachers with first-class records who are stationed in the country districts where there has been a general decline in population; whether there is any precedent in public service for reducing gradings, salaries, and pensions as is at present being done; whether he has addressed representations on the subject to the Commissioners, and with what result?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Commissioners of National Education inform me that the average attendance necessary to warrant 135 the grant of a salary of the first division of first grade is seventy or over. The salary, however, is not reduced unless and until the average falls below thirty-five. The pension rights of teachers are not necessarily affected by a reduction in their incomes. The Commissioners are not aware that this rule presses with undue harshness on any considerable body of teachers, and they do not admit that the gradings, salaries, and pensions of teachers are being reduced under the present Regulations. The answer to the final paragraph of the question is in the negative.
§ Mr. HUGH BARRIE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this Report has not been applied to the model school teachers?