Saturday 1 October 2016

Teacher shortage hits our schools in overseas jobs boom

Published 13/01/2016 | 02:30

Measures: Jan O Sullivan
Measures: Jan O Sullivan

A teacher shortage is hitting schools at both primary and secondary level at the same time, as young graduates are being attracted to jobs in the Middle East, the UK and other countries.

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Irish teachers are in big demand abroad, with interviews for jobs in the United Arab Emirates taking place in Dublin this week, while international recruitment agencies have been clamouring for stands at a graduate fair in Dublin City University (DCU) next month.

Meanwhile, primary school principals are having difficulty covering teacher absences because of a shortage of substitutes.

According to the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO), the problem has become particularly acute since Christmas and is affecting schools all over the country.

The union warned that schools may be forced to tell parents to keep children at home if they cannot cover teacher absences.

INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan said salary cuts introduced for teacher graduates after 2011 must be reversed to ensure teaching remained an attractive profession in Ireland.

The supply of teachers for primary schools is particularly acute this year because of the extension of teacher education courses, which meant there were few graduates from teacher training colleges last year.

Meanwhile, second-level schools are also reporting shortages of teachers in certain subjects, including modern languages, home economics, Irish and science.

As well as issues over low pay, second-level teachers can spend years trying to get permanent work.

Growing enrolments are increasing the need for teachers at both primary and post-primary and, along with improvements to school staffing levels promised in the Budget, an extra 2,260 positions will open next September.

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan introduced measures to provide job security for temporary/part-time teachers after two years, rather than four, but the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) said while helpful, more needs to be done.

The TUI is conducting a ballot among members on issues including employment status and income poverty, the result of which will be known this week.

Irish Independent

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