Clamping Down on Career Breaks is Tackling a Problem That Doesn’t Exist

The INTO today (Friday 26 January 2018) described the suggestion that Boards of Management in schools clamp down on career break applications from teachers as a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. The union said there is no evidence that boards have difficulty in filling year-long vacancies caused by teachers on career break.

The INTO argues there are plenty of teachers to take posts created by teachers on career break as they provide, long-term, regular work and are a route to permanent employment. The union said the problem being experienced by schools at present is short term cover particularly at this time of year.

The INTO said this proposal by the minister will not solve this issue and that panels of supply teachers guaranteeing regular employment and counter offers of work abroad.

INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan said, “Teachers cannot afford to stay in Ireland on the chance that they will get occasional work sometime during the year.” She said panels of supply teachers and an end to pay inequality are needed to provide cover for teachers on short term unplanned absences.

“Teachers opting to take career breaks create employment for new entrants,” said Ms Nunan. “Stopping breaks would close off those employment opportunities and lead to new entrants being unemployed.” Ms Nunan said the minster’s proposal would just result in a different cohort of teachers going abroad to seek work.

The INTO said there is a worldwide shortage of teachers. “Irish teachers are in demand,” said Ms Nunan. She said if the minister really wanted to solve a retention problem, he must provide regular work and end pay inequality that sees newer teachers earn less. “We need to focus on cover for short term absences and provide structured cover in the form of panels of teachers,” said Ms Nunan. She said we need to talk up teaching as a good job. “We also need to finish with pay inequality.”

The INTO accepted that career breaks are not a right but subject to the sanction of school boards. Ms. Nunan said for decades boards had made decisions on applications from teachers according to their school policies.

She said there is clear evidence that career breaks benefit the education system through the professional and personal development of teachers.

Changes to the Career Break Scheme for the 2017/18 School Year (pdf)