Monday 17 December 2018

'Colleges need extra funding to train more teachers'

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Third-level colleges will not be able to train more teachers to address shortages in key subjects unless the Government provides more funding, the Oireachtas Education Committee has been warned.

Dublin City University (DCU) plans to run a new post-primary teacher training programme for Irish and modern languages, but now it is worried about having the necessary money for lecturers, classrooms, library spaces and support staff.

Dr Anne Looney, dean of the Institute of Education at DCU, told a committee hearing on teacher supply that additional places in teacher education programmes, or new programmes, were contingent on resources to support them.

Dr Looney said Ireland's higher education system was continuing to struggle in the aftermath of austerity and in the absence of a sustainable funding model.

She told the committee that, while the DCU education faculty had 4,000 students and 140 staff, a comparable faculty in the Netherlands had 6,000 students and 600 staff.

"The reality of that ratio hits home when we sit down to plan for a new B.Ed in Gaeilge and modern languages we hope to offer in 2019 to respond to teacher shortages in these areas," she said, adding that the biggest challenge would be funding for staff and facilities.

Meanwhile, with weeks to go, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) has put out an appeal for teachers to work as examiners and superintendents for the June Leaving and Junior Cert exams, giving rise to concerns about possible shortages.

The SEC has vacancies for teachers to mark written exams across all subjects and is also seeking superintendents for the Greater Dublin Area.

Fianna Fáil education spokesperson Thomas Byrne said it was a case of "the chickens coming home to roost" on teacher shortages and called on Education Minister Richard Bruton to set out a plan to ensure that the exams took place without any disruption.

A spokesperson for the minister said that the SEC had advised that it was confident that with the ongoing support of teachers, all positions would be filled, as in previous years.

The SEC said it had run recruitment campaigns right up to the start of the marking process in previous years and had always secured the co-operation of teachers.

Irish Independent

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