Thursday 25 May 2017

Warning of teacher shortages if grades raised for trainees

Any sudden move to raise the grades that trainee primary teachers need in Leaving Certificate English, Irish and Maths will rule a large number of students out of entry to the courses. (picture posed)
Any sudden move to raise the grades that trainee primary teachers need in Leaving Certificate English, Irish and Maths will rule a large number of students out of entry to the courses. (picture posed)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Any sudden move to raise the grades that trainee primary teachers need in Leaving Certificate English, Irish and Maths will rule a large number of students out of entry to the courses, according to a new report.

The same report stresses the need to attract trainee teachers from across the social divide.

Ruairi Quinn: former minister’s proposals caused ourtrage. Photo: Tom Burke
Ruairi Quinn: former minister’s proposals caused ourtrage. Photo: Tom Burke

Higher entry requirements in three key subjects were suggested by the Teaching Council a number of years ago as a quality assurance measure.

Around that time, former Education Minister Ruairi Quinn caused outrage when he drew a link between "average" national maths standards and the dominance of women in primary teaching.

But, without sufficient notice, raising the grades required in all three subjects would dramatically reduce the number of school-leavers eligible for entry to traditional primary teacher courses, according to the report by Dr Merike Dermody and Prof Emer Smyth of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

The ESRI found that fewer than one in six current students would meet the suggested higher criteria in all three subjects.

It also found that the main issue would be with higher level maths.

Similarly, a proposal to change the entry criteria for post-primary teacher courses would significantly reduce the pool of potential applicants in certain fields, such as science, the ESRI found.

The report was commissioned by the Teaching Council to inform its advice to the Minister for Education over the minimum entry requirements for teacher education.

According to the report, the profession continues to attract high achievers, but the authors express concern about a lack of diversity.

Students are more likely to be socially advantaged than those on arts/social science courses.

It also found they were less likely to have attended a disadvantaged school, be in receipt of a grant or be non-Irish.

The profile of students on post-primary teaching courses is more diverse, although those from non-Irish and disadvantaged backgrounds are under-represented.

Dr Dermody said there was a need to consider entry routes to teaching that would encourage applicants from under-represented communities.

Teaching Council director Tomás Ó Ruairc acknowledged the questions raised over diversity in the profession.

Irish Independent

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