Teachers condemn the current lack of substitute teachers 18/04/17
Teachers condemn the current lack of substitute teachers
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Irish National Teachers’ Organisation
INTO Congress 2017 in Belfast
At the INTO annual Congress in Belfast today, delegates slammed the current lack of substitute teachers. Primary teachers called for a ballot for industrial action if progress is not made within the year.
Delegates passed a motion demanding the union’s executive enter into negotiations with the Department of Education and management bodies to ensure supply panels of teachers are available to schools as a first step in tackling the lack of substitute teachers.
Substitute teachers fill in for regular teachers who are on sick leave and provide cover for other forms of leave such as maternity leave. They are hired by schools on a needs basis. For the last year there has been a huge shortage of substitute teachers.
The INTO is blaming emigration for the shortage of teachers which it puts down to inferior salaries for new teachers and the lack of regular work. In recent years there has been a major exodus of Irish teachers moving abroad for regular work and better pay.
In the absence of supply panels, many graduate teachers want the certainty of full-time work abroad over uncertain employment patterns at home.
Another factor contributing to the substitute shortage is the rental crisis that has yet to be addressed. The increase in pupil populations in urban areas, particularly in Dublin, demand more teachers - yet rental costs are spiralling, making it unattractive for teachers to live there.
Mary Magner from the union’s executive told delegates that she’d had numerous calls from principals who failed to secure cover for their schools, some of whom had contacted as many as 60 substitute teachers, all of whom were already working on the day
She said she had advised distressed principals in two teacher schools who are concerned, anxious and stressed by the burden of health and safety for all pupils when they fail to find a substitute teacher. Ms Magner told how some teachers dragged themselves into work when sick as they realised the impact their absence had on pupils and colleagues. “Stress levels have escalated and teaching and learning is compromised.”
She told delegates that last November the Minister had estimated savings on primary teacher salaries of €24 million for 2016 “mainly as a result of lower than anticipated substitution costs”. She said the savings could be attributed to a lack substitute teachers.
Do we have to wait until we are forced to send children home from school? Do we have to wait until an accident happens in our schools? Do we have to take industrial action before supply panels of substitute teachers are established?
TJ Clare from Dublin said the union needed to take action because a school without teachers is just bricks and mortar.
Pat Crowe from Dublin called on the government to make sure there were enough teachers to fill the posts. He also said supply panels of teachers needed to be set up to ensure that teachers could be organised for employment in schools that needed their services.