Saturday 10 December 2016

Taxpayers shell out €100m in decade on 'surplus' teachers

John Walshe Education Editor

Published 08/03/2011 | 05:00

MORE than 170 "surplus" teachers are still employed in Irish schools at a cost of €10m a year to the taxpayer.

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One secondary school in Athlone, Co Westmeath, has eight teachers over its official quota and has had for years.

Two others each have seven teachers too many and three schools each have six teachers too many.

The issue has persisted for years and is only now being seriously addressed in order to cut public spending.

In the past decade, around €100m has been spent paying the salaries of "surplus" teachers, who were not redeployed even though they were above the school's official quota.

A Department of Education spokesperson said the schools concerned would continue in the short term to have the extra teachers under the teacher allocation rules applying to schools generally.

"The numbers surplus are posts they continued to hold in the absence of redeployment arrangements," she said.

"The introduction of new redeployment arrangements is intended to deal with the surplus".

When the new scheme comes into effect, the surplus teachers will be moved to other second-level schools, as part of the Croke Park agreement.

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Second-level schools had to notify the Department of Education and Skills by last Friday of the names of teachers to be redeployed within 50km of their home or school.

Liam Nally, principal of St Joseph' s College, Summerhill, Athlone, Co Westmeath, which will lose eight of its 37 teachers, said redeployment would be difficult on staff who had been in the school for years.

The redeployment scheme has been accepted by the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland but still has to be approved by the Teachers' Union of Ireland, whose members are balloting this month.

Teachers can be moved to a different second-level sector -- in other words, a community school teacher could be moved to a secondary school, or vice versa.

The idea of a cross-sectoral redeployment scheme was proposed by the then Education Minister Noel Dempsey as far back as 2003.

The 2006 Towards 2016 pay deal contained a commitment to a new teacher redeployment scheme from the start of the 2007/2008 school year.

It didn't happen then and its introduction was delayed by High Court action by four Protestant schools, which feared they would be forced to accept a teacher who did not subscribe to their religious ethos.

The surplus teachers are employed above the official quota, which is based on the current 19:1 pupil teacher ratio in second level schools.

Irish Independent

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