INTO welcomes additional measures to alleviate substitution crisis in schools

In recent days, the INTO has highlighted the serious shortage of substitute teachers in primary schools and proposed immediate, short-term solutions to alleviate the crisis. In an effort to address this urgent crisis, we have engaged proactively with fellow education partners, including Department of Education officials, school management, the Teaching Council and Higher Education Institutions.

The INTO welcomes the measures being proposed in Information Note SD 0001/2021 (Nóta Faisnéise SD 0001/2021) sent to schools by the Department of Education this evening. We particularly appreciate the flexibility being shown by the teacher-education institutions, who are making student-teachers available to act in the place of registered primary teachers that are not in a position to attend their schools.

The union also acknowledges the provision that retired colleagues can carry out substitute work without the threat of their pensions being reduced. Furthermore, 200 additional supply-panel posts will give more schools certainty about access to substitutes.

INTO General Secretary John Boyle said:

Principals and teachers have been under tremendous pressure managing COVID-19 in schools. These additional supportive measures will provide some relief and enable primary and special schools to function more effectively over the winter months.  

The INTO will continue to work constructively to ensure that our schools are in a strong position to address the challenges posed by the pandemic.”

Information Note synopsis  

Members should please note a synopsis of Information Note SD 0001/2021 (Nóta Faisnéise SD 0001/2021)  provided by the INTO below:

1) The purpose of the Information Note is to notify schools of additional measures being put in place to increase the availability of substitute teachers at primary level.

2) These additional temporary measures have been put in place until the February mid-term break.

3) The following additional measures are being put in place:

(i) Supply Panels: A further 200 posts to be made available for existing/new areas where there have been significant challenges in sourcing substitutes.

Engagement will take place with the base schools to allocate these posts so that base schools can make arrangements for the recruitment of additional staff immediately.

(ii) Student Teachers: 3rd and 4th year B.Eds and PMEs are being released by the HEIs (teacher training programmes) to support schools up to the end of the term. Any practical issues will be worked out with the Department, HEI Colleges, Teaching Council and education stakeholders to ensure the ongoing availability of student-teachers pre and post-Christmas.

(iii) Retired Teachers: will not have their pension abated for the remainder of the current school term.

(iv) Teachers on Secondment to the Teacher Education Support Services: have been asked to make themselves available for sub cover when released by the TESS. Arrangements will made for available teachers from these services to register with an existing Primary Supply Panel or on

(v) Treoraíthe (co-operating teachers): In exceptional circumstances where there is no substitute available, it may be possible for the Treoraí of a registered student teacher to provide substitute cover for absences of a very short duration in their own school if another substitute cannot be sourced at short notice. This should be for the shortest time possible until a substitute can be recruited.

(vi) CPD: All CPD where substitution is required is to be deferred until after the February 2022 mid-term.

4) Droichead:

(i) The temporary suspension of CPD will not affect the completion of the Droichead process for NQTs whose contracts are due to end prior to mid-term break in February.

(ii) Teachers on Supply Panels: In order to assist with the recruitment of teachers onto supply panels, and in the context of the pandemic, the Teaching Council has confirmed that teachers who secure posts on supply panels in the 2021/2022 academic year may complete Droichead. This an exceptional time bound measure. Further guidance will be provided by the NIPT regarding the role of the base school and partner schools in the process.