Gary Gannon TD, Social Democrats spokesperson on Education, has said that difficulties in recruiting additional teachers has emerged as one of the greatest challenges as our schools reopen.

Deputy Gannon said:

“The recruitment of over 1,000 additional teachers for post-primary schools was one of the headline measures in the Government’s announcement at the end of July. This target was always going to be difficult to achieve given the short timescale involved so I was not surprised to hear warnings of chronic teacher shortages at this morning’s sitting of the Special Oireachtas Covid-19 Committee.

“Secondary schools are facing teacher shortages due to a perfect storm of delayed retirements, high-risk staff needing time off and people not applying for jobs in urban areas due to high rents, with Dublin likely to be most affected.

“There are particular shortages of language and science teachers. This means schools are unlikely to be able to bring in substitutes for these subjects in the event of teachers having to take Covid-19 related leave of absence.

“The reopening of our schools is welcome and it is clear that principals, boards and all school staff have done enormous work to enable most of our children to return to education.

“However, we know there are going to be challenges throughout the system. The Minister needs to come up with Plan B contingency measures to deal with the recruitment shortfall and to enable high quality, coordinated remote learning when outbreaks result in students being sent home, or when students are not able to attend school for Covid-19 reasons.

“There are cases where students don’t have access to a laptop at home or have to share one with two or three siblings. These are issues that can be resolved – but they are issues that require leadership and clear messaging.”

September 2, 2020

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