Brexit threatens education system in Ireland

With substitute shortages endemic across Ireland, a disorderly Brexit presents unique challenges to our members. INTO President Joe Killeen and Northern Ireland Chair Paddy McAllister will today meet with senior parliamentarians and stakeholders in Brussels to raise members concerns on a no-deal Brexit.

Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications
A teacher, who has obtained qualified teacher status in an EU member state in compliance with the EU Directives is eligible to be registered as a teacher in another member state (such as Ireland) subject to certain conditions.

Where a teacher who has acquired a teaching qualification in an EU member state but is missing an element deemed necessary in the Irish education system, such as a qualification to teach Irish, they are required to undertake further training to acquire this missing skill. However, even in this case, EU membership has allowed most of their education training and experience to be used in the Irish jurisdiction.

Primary school teachers trained in Northern Ireland and whose qualifications have been assessed and accepted by the Irish Department of Education and Skills, but who do not possess an appropriate Irish language qualification, will be granted a 5-year period of provisional recognition to teach in Irish national schools. During this period, teachers must work towards meeting the Department’s Irish language requirements.

In Northern Ireland, individuals who have been recognised as a qualified teacher in the EU, EAA or Switzerland may make application for recognition with the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland.

It remains to be seen how these jobs will be facilitated should the UK depart the EU without a deal. Teachers undertaking these critical roles deserve clarity.

Crossing the border
INTO is aware of teachers who cross the border every day to take up teaching roles in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. In a recent freedom of information request to the GTCNI, INTO discovered their current list contains members who list their address as being in the Republic of Ireland.

Supply Crisis
Schools in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland continue to notify the INTO of their ongoing struggle to secure supply teachers. At such a critical time for staffing these positions, it’s imperative that additional barriers not be created which will only affect school’s ability to provide quality teachers day in day out.

INTO President Joe Killeen said, “With the increasingly haphazard approach being taken to Brexit by the UK Government and the very real possibility that the UK might depart the EU without a deal, our members deserve guarantee’s that their jobs will be protected. Whether
training in one jurisdiction and working in another or commuting across the border daily, we are concerned that teachers are being overlooked. Today in Brussels, we have taken our concerns to senior decisions makers and MEPs.”

INTO Northern Ireland Chair Paddy McAllister said, “As a trade union that operates across the island of Ireland, we are concerned that a no-deal Brexit would leave some of our members without protection. Those members crossing the border each day to teach in schools in both jurisdictions, play a critical role in our society and deserve clarity on their roles. In meetings with senior voices in Brussels today we have demanded that teachers receive this clarity from both the UK and Dublin governments.”