Sunday 23 November 2014

Graduate teachers struggle to get jobs as retirees rehired

Published 15/02/2013 | 04:00

RETIRED teachers are being employed on long-term contracts in primary schools, while unemployed graduates struggle to find work.

This is despite a pledge by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to end the scandal.

Promised legislation designed to ensure unemployed teachers get priority has still not been implemented, it emerged last night.

Crucially, 22 out of 104 retired primary teachers employed in schools in December were on long-term contracts.

Latest Department of Education figures show that 82 retired teachers were employed as short-term substitutes in primary schools that month.

A substitute replaces a teacher absent at short notice and principals argue that, when faced with a sudden illness, they take on whoever is available.

They say that in more remote areas, a lack of qualified teachers may leave them with no choice but to hire a retired teacher living locally.

The employment of 22 retired teachers for longer term work in the same period is causing serious concern.

They were employed on contracts which would usually be used to cover lengthy absences such as maternity leave, long-term sick leave, resource teaching or awaiting the filling of a permanent job.

Indefensible

There are hundreds of fully qualified teachers available for work, some of whom have yet to work this year, according to the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO).

The INTO said the long-term rehiring of retired teachers was indefensible.

INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan said there were a tiny number of cases where schools could not get an unemployed teacher and so called on a retired teacher.

But the rehiring of retired teachers on a regular basis or for extended time periods could not be justified .

Fianna Fail called on Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to explain and to outline what he plans to do to ensure that all available roles will be offered to those who need it most.

The Department of Education previously told the Irish Independent it would follow up individual cases to see if schools were flouting the rules, but it is not known whether any investigation has taken place.

Mr Quinn has made it clear that schools should be employing unemployed and newly qualified teachers, rather than rehiring retired teachers.

A circular issued in 2011 requires schools to prioritise the employment of unemployed qualified teachers over retired teachers, but promised legislation may not be in place until the next school year.

Irish Independent

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