Monday 26 September 2016

Promotions ban denies young teachers chance of career progression

Published 08/04/2016 | 02:30

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Thousands of career progression opportunities for young teachers have been closed off as a result of the public service-wide ban on promotions.

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The lack of middle management promotional posts in schools represents a double whammy for a generation of teachers appointed on lower pay scales.

More than 6,000 teachers - about one in 10 - are on lower rates introduced in 2011 and 2012. Over a career, these amount to €100,000- €200,000 less in earnings when compared with older colleagues.

Now, figures released to the Irish Independent by the Department of Education show the scale of the cutbacks in promotions - meaning further losses to potential earnings - since the moratorium took effect in March 2009.

As a result of the ban, no special duties posts in schools may be filled, and there are very tight restrictions on the appointment of assistant principals. Younger teachers depend on staff turnover, such as retirements, for these positions to arise in order to start moving up the career ladder and to boost their salary.

The first step-up for many would be a special duties post, where the teacher takes on a particular responsibility in return for a salary increase of €3,769. The sort of responsibilities involved include arranging school tours or taking charge of activities, such as games or the school choir.

While the opportunities vary depending on the size of the school and staff turnover, many young teachers would expect to get such a post within seven to 10 years of starting work.

In one example from the Department of Education's figures, the number of special duties posts in primary schools has dropped from 8,274 in 2009 to 5,189 this year.

That translates to a fall from about one in four primary teachers holding a special duties post in 2009, to about one in seven today.

The more senior position of assistant principal comes with a salary increase of €8,520.

But the chances of filling an assistant principal post at primary level has more than halved in the same period, with 1,522 of these positions in 2009, compared with 710 this year.

Earnings

The figures show a similar pattern in post-primary schools, with the number of special duties jobs down from 5,493 to 3,183 between 2009 and 2016, while assistant principal post-holders have fallen from 3,730 to 2,275 in the same period. These figures do not include the education and training board (ETB) sector, which accounts for about one-third of post-primary schools.

As well as losses to newly qualified teachers in terms of pay and career progression, the dismantling of middle management structures in schools has increased the burden on principals. The loss of potential earnings from not gaining promotion is on top of the reduced income that young teachers face, when compared with those who were appointed prior to pay cuts in 2011.

Lower rates that were applied in 2011 were cut further the following year, when allowances paid to teachers in recognition of their qualifications were withdrawn.

The qualification allowances - worth €4,918 a year for most teachers - were regarded as an integral part of basic pay, separate from the allowances paid for promotional posts.

Over a typical 40-year career, a new entrant to teaching this September, on a starting salary of €31,009, will be paid about €204,000 less than an entrant who started in 2010, and about €104,000 less than a 2011 entrant.

Irish Independent

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