Sunday 4 December 2016

Quinn 'powerless' to get teacher details

'Disgrace' as 40pc of schools don't carry out survey on staff qualifications

Published 30/09/2011 | 05:00

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn is powerless to compel schools to reveal the number of unqualified maths teachers in Irish classrooms.

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He has twice ordered the Teaching Council to survey all second-level schools to find out how many unqualified teachers there are in order to tackle the growing maths crisis.

However, as the final results of the survey were published yesterday, some 40pc of schools had still not co-operated.

A spokesperson for his department said Mr Quinn would not be seeking any further responses to the survey.

It means he still does not know the true extent of the scandal.

Just 422 out of 724 schools responded to the survey which found that one-third of maths teachers are unqualified.

Of the schools that responded, there were a total of 3,311 teachers teaching maths. Of these, two-thirds were fully qualified in that they have maths as a major subject in their third-level degree.

Almost one-third, or 1,029 teachers, had undergone some studies in maths at university, although they did not meet the criteria to be fully qualified.

Worryingly, 84 teachers -- or 2.5pc of respondents -- had no experience at all of studying maths at third level.

This means that they are teaching maths with, at best, a Leaving Certificate in the subject.

A lack of qualified teachers has been identified as a factor in the maths crisis, with more than 4,000 students failing the subject in this year's Leaving Cert.

Performance

But Fianna Fail education spokesperson in the Seanad, Averil Power, said it was "disgraceful" that 40pc of schools failed to respond to the survey.

She called for a results-based analysis of why some students are doing badly in maths and to see if this is linked to teacher performance.

"The minister's only real response to the maths crisis so far has been to survey the qualifications of all maths teachers. While this information is useful, it will not give him a proper picture of what is really going on in our maths classrooms.

"Lack of qualifications may be one factor, but other factors such as poor teaching skills, poor leadership in the school, and the standard of maths the students had on transfer from primary school could be just as important," she added.

A department spokeswoman said last night there were no plans to return to the 40pc of schools that did not respond.

"The survey is the most comprehensive of its kind ever undertaken and the results provide a good overview of the current situation in these schools.

"The results of the second round of the survey are consistent with data published on September 12 last," she added.

Irish Independent

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