26th September 2019
The shortage of qualified teachers to cover short-term absences is a huge challenge for schools across the country and a threat to long term education standards if not addressed.
INTO has been calling for the reintroduction of supply panels since they were scrapped in 2011. Congress has demanded the establishment of supply panels of teachers as a first step in tackling the lack of substitute teachers. Supply panels are required in order to recognise the reality that hundreds of substitute teachers are needed daily for our schools. Teacher supply cannot be planned without an organised system to fill the daily vacancies, therefore supply panels are not an add-on but a critical and essential part of the education service.
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 an as-needed. For the last two years there has been a huge shortage of substitute teachers at primary level.
At INTO Congress 2019, General Secretary John Boyle reiterated the need for the reintroduction of such panels. Minister McHugh confirmed at the same event that he would seek to establish a pilot scheme to determine the viability of reintroduction.
Today, the Department of Education and Skills has announced the launch of a pilot scheme which will establish supply panels based in six identified schools across the country. Each panel will have up to three teachers available to a cluster of schools to fill in for short term absences. These teachers will have full-time fixed term contracts and will ensure that the children in these schools are taught by a qualified teacher when their own teacher is absent.
INTO welcomes today’s announcement which we believe is a first small step in the right direction, but it needs to be extended nationwide to guarantee that every child in primary school is taught by a fully qualified primary teacher every day.
The schools involved in the pilot are:
- Scoil Chroí Naofa, Athenry, Co Galway
- Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Alainn, Montenotte, Cork
- Scoil Bhríde, Leixlip, Co Kildare
- Ard Rí CNS, Navan, Co Meath
- St David’s NS, Artane, Dublin 5
- Presentation Primary School, Terenure, Dublin 6W
Circular 0059/2019 is available here.
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