Sunday 30 April 2017

System is giving second-class treatment to first-class graduates

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

THEIR qualifications and enthusiasm are first class.

They're young, they're skilled and they're bursting to get into schools to do the job of their dreams.

But the treatment of young teachers in a system that is cutting jobs while at the same time allowing people with no teaching qualifications to work in classrooms is second class.

The first hurdle to overcome is the completion of a 170-day probationary period as a working teacher, which must include two 50-day blocks.

This is the practical experience needed to complete their professional qualification.

With it, their chances of landing a job improve dramatically -- without it, they remain down the pecking order.

In the current climate, completing their probation is a near impossible task for many.

Dubliner Alan Bedford (29) qualified last May and has been subbing in St David's School, Artane, Dublin, since November.

However, his role as an English language support teacher does not count for probation.

Mairead Dunphy (24), from Balbriggan, Co Dublin, also qualified last year and worked as a learning support teacher until January, but the role isn't reckonable for probation.

Had Emma Douglas (25) started her primary teaching degree immediately after school, she would probably have a job now.

But Emma, from Finglas, Dublin, first pursued her passion for Irish at college before before undertaking a postgraduate degree in primary teaching.

Emma has been working as a learning support teacher covering long-term sick leave, but it's of no use for her probation.

Adeline McWeeney (24), from Co Leitrim, is similarly hamstrung. Since graduating in 2009, she has done stints as a home school liaison co-ordinator, as well as part-time hours in English language support, but they don't count.

Rowena Curran, from Celbridge, Co Kildare, feels it is time for her to be living away from home, but the uncertainty since qualifying last summer means she can't even consider it.

Orla Faulkner (26), from Bettystown, Co Meath , qualified in 2009 and is lucky enough to have completed her probation this year, but her job prospects still aren't bright.

She has no idea where she will be in September.

"The issue is not even whether I get a permanent job, but can I get any kind of employment," she said.

"We cannot plan. I need a new car, but I can't take out a car loan. These are the sort of problems we have."

Irish Independent

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