Comments by John Carr to Irish Times on National Competitiveness Council Report [INTO]

Comments by John Carr to Irish Times on National Competitiveness Council Report

9th March 2009

The INTO strongly criticized the NCC report saying it presented information on class size reductions in a particularly negative and misleading manner.

"The facts are that class size reductions have been shown to be particularly effective in improving educational outcomes for younger children, disadvantaged children and minority groups. This worldwide evidence is not disputed by even the staunchest critics of class size reductions," said John Carr, INTO General Secretary.

"The INTO has consistently argued for smaller classes for younger children because it pays dividends," said Carr. "This international best practice was recognized by government when classes of less than 20 were promised for children under nine.

"The NCC's report claims to be based on evidence," said Carr. "This is simply not true."

The INTO said the report quoted one academic paper by Eric Hanushek of Stanford University, an economist known to be against class size reduction. "The NCC report failed to mention that Hanushek's findings were shown to be inaccurate and misleading by Prof Alan Krueger of Princeton University."

Mr Carr said the claim that spending per student had increased significantly in recent years, and both teacher/student ratios and class sizes have moved towards the OECD and EU averages was partial and particularly misleading. "The reality is that while spending per pupil increased in recent years it fell significantly behind Ireland's national wealth," said Carr.

"Claiming that class sizes have moved towards OECD and EU averages is straight out of the Ryanair school of spin," said Carr. "Ireland's class sizes are miles away from where they should be and only inching towards those in other countries."

Mr Carr said Ireland's classes in primary school are among the most overcrowded in the EU with an average of 24 pupils compared to an overall average of less than 20.


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