28th June 2023
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) has written to the Department of Education and the Teaching Council demanding steps be taken to alleviate the growing teacher recruitment and retention crisis.
Extend NQT scheme
The union is seeking an extension to the scheme enabling Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) who qualify outside the State to complete their induction in Ireland.
Registration remains open until February 2024 but INTO General Secretary John Boyle today called for the scheme to be extended by a minimum eighteen months to enable those entering post-graduate education outside the Republic of Ireland between 2021 and 2023 to complete their induction in Ireland during the next two school years.
To ensure eligible NQTs take advantage of the scheme, the INTO is further calling for an improved public awareness campaign.
Applications can be made by NQTs in accordance with the Teaching Council (Registration) (Amendment) Regulation, 2023 for Route 1 (Primary).
See here for more details on the scheme.
The union has also sought assurance from the Teaching Council that any qualified teachers coming to Ireland seeking registration for September will have their applications processed quickly.
To encourage NQTs to apply for positions on supply panels and principals’ release day clusters, the INTO has also urged the Teaching Council to allow these teachers to complete the Droichead Induction process while working in these roles.
Since the Teaching Council removed this facility following the pandemic, many of these year-long, fixed-term positions have remained vacant thereby denying pupils continuity of teaching and learning.
Extend Supply Panel Scheme from September 2023
The union has also again called on the Department to extend the supply panel scheme to the 400 primary and special schools not included to date. This scheme has the potential to address challenges in securing cover for short-term absences.
The INTO has been pressing the Department to issue a new circular that will put more structure on the scheme, which now operates in every county having been launched four years ago as a pilot.
Promotion of the clustering scheme for principals’ release days
The union has also asked the Department to contact all schools with teaching principals who have not clustered together to create a fixed-term post covering their release days to encourage them to do so.
This initiative provides certainty, continuity and consistency for schools when their teaching principals avail of the weekly leadership and management ‘release’ day negotiated by the INTO in 2020.
Clarity for teachers on career break and job-sharing
With the Work Life Balance Act expected to commence shortly, there will be further statutory provision for leave for medical care purposes. This will likely create a further demand for substitute teachers during the next school year.
This comes in addition to a July 2022 increase in Parent’s Leave from 5 weeks to 7 weeks. In that regard, the INTO has sought that early clarity be given to teachers on career-break or job-sharing in respect of unlimited substitution during the next school year.
INTO General Secretary John Boyle said:
For the last two years primary and special schools have been dealing with wave after wave of teacher recruitment and retention challenges. Schools have been struggling to fill permanent posts, year-long contracts and substitute positions because the exorbitant cost of housing is driving many workers away from rent-pressure areas and sometimes out the country altogether.
“Massive increases in living costs in Ireland, the dearth of opportunities for promotion, the removal of incentives for career progression – including qualifications allowances – and the long length of teachers’ salary scales are all factors impacting on teacher supply.
“While all these issues need to be addressed in negotiations on a new public sector agreement and in Budget 2024, the measures relating to induction and substitution put forward by the INTO this month are cost-neutral.
“But they need to be implemented in the coming months to give children in primary and special schools a better chance of being taught by qualified teachers in the next school year. Surely the least our children deserve post-pandemic is to have a registered teacher in their classroom every day.”