The Minister for Education has been sleepwalking through this crisis and has failed to give it the urgency it deserves
The Social Democrats will bring a Private Members’ Motion before the Dáil on Wednesday (December 7), calling for a range of measures to address the serious shortage of teachers in primary and secondary schools.
The motion comes against the backdrop of a recent TUI survey which found that 91 percent of post-primary schools experienced teacher recruitment difficulties in the past six months, while 61 percent reported teacher retention issues.
Separately, almost two thirds of primary schools in the Dublin area are short-staffed, with Wicklow and Kildare facing similar problems. In Dublin, 62 percent of posts on teacher supply panels are vacant, with a figure of 10 percent recorded outside the capital.
Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon, the party’s Education spokesperson, said:
“The recruitment crisis facing our schools has the potential to impact our most vulnerable students. It is of particular concern that schools are having to redeploy special education teachers to plug the gaps in mainstream classes.
“Children with additional needs must be insulated from the teacher recruitment crisis so they can reach their full potential within our education system. They are the ones most at risk of regressing, both socially and academically, if they lose vital in-class learning supports.
“It is the height of hypocrisy for the Government to state that special education teachers should not be used as substitutes in mainstream classes when 83 percent of schools around the country have had to resort to this measure as a last resort.
“If allowed to continue unchecked, the situation will only get worse. In 2021, the Department of Education predicted the need for more than 4,000 additional post-primary teachers over the next five years.
“Recruitment has been directly impacted by high accommodation costs, particularly in Dublin and the commuter-belt counties. Teacher shortages will continue to affect our schools if the underlying causes of the housing crisis are not addressed by the Government.
“We also need to incentivise people to take up teaching as a career, which means removing the financial and academic barriers they face while studying. Our motion proposes the creation of funded scholarships to be awarded to excellent candidates, including those from minority backgrounds, to pursue primary school teaching qualifications.
“The Minister for Education has been sleepwalking through this crisis and has failed to give it the urgency it deserves.”
The Social Democrats’ motion tomorrow will call for:
- the immediate establishment of an emergency teacher supply taskforce, informed by stakeholders, to identify tangible solutions to the shortages.
- the Minister to work with higher education institutions to facilitate 3rd and 4th year student teachers, and master’s students, to engage in increased substitution work.
- the elimination of delays surrounding the re-registration of teachers with the Teaching Council.
- teachers in training to be paid for their work in placement schools.
- a review of the Professional Master of Education (PME), which was increased from one year to two years in 2014, with significant additional costs associated with the longer duration of the course.
- permanent, full-time jobs to be given to teachers upon initial appointment.
December 6, 2022