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INTO president calls for improvements to teacher supply 17/04/17

INTO President calls for improvements to teacher supply

Monday, 17 April 2017

Press Release

Irish National Teachers Organisation

INTO Congress 2017

The INTO has slammed the shortage of substitute teachers available to cover for teacher absences. The union’s president Rosena Jordan said that, despite almost 2,000 teachers completing teacher education courses last year, she heard about the shortage of substitute teachers in practically every school she visited.

“Every child is entitled to be taught by a fully qualified teacher,” said Ms Jordan. “That should be the corner stone or foundation for anyone hoping to build the best education system in the world.”

Yet, she said, increasingly this is not the case. “Classes are split, other teachers are asked to provide cover, retired colleagues are cajoled back or enthusiastic amateurs are drafted in.” This she said was simply unacceptable. 

She warned that a staffing crisis would translate into falling standards. “We all know that fair pay for teachers is a key driver for recruitment. It is no coincidence that the years 2011-2013 which saw pay reductions, most significantly for new entrant teachers, also saw the first fall-off in demand for primary teacher education courses.”

In recent years there has been enormous recruitment of Irish teachers to work abroad, in particular in the UK and the Middle East. Over 1,500 primary teachers are on career break in the 2016/17 school year and approximately 700 primary teachers leave the primary payroll each and every year, other than for retirement. “Higher salaries and professional contracts are the main attractions,” said Ms Jordan.

She said the situation could be rescued by two key policy decisions. These she said were fair pay for teachers and regular contracts of employment.

“Teachers graduating from colleges of education after four years of study deserve better than zero hours contracts.”