An excessive workload is “eroding the morale of teachers” and driving people away from the profession, according to the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI).
General Secretary Michael Gillespie told delegates at the TUI annual conference that there needs to be a significant increase in resources as schools are struggling to deal with the fallout from the pandemic, the influx of new students from Ukraine and the proposed reforms of the curriculum.
“Without additional posts, schools will not be able to cope with the multitude of demands; current post holders including principals and deputy principals, already swamped by administrative and bureaucratic overload, will not be able to meet the identified needs in this changing and rapidly evolving post-primary system,” Mr Gillespie said.
“Schools cannot be expected - and should not be asked - to continue indefinitely to work on an emergency footing”.
The ongoing dispute over pay scales and its impact on staff recruitment will also be addressed at the conference.
Significant pay increases are being sought by teachers, lecturers and other educators who are TUI members due to inflationary pressures.
Mr Gillespie said teachers who moved “outside the M50” in search of affordable homes are now spending huge money just to travel to work due to rising fuel costs.
He urged the Government to issue a “meaningful” response on the issue.
The two-tier pay system that was instituted in 2011, which means teachers employed after January 2011 earn a starting salary lower than that earned by colleagues employed before that date, will also be discussed.
A TUI survey released on Monday found that 30pc of those employed after 2011 believe they will still be teaching in ten years’ time.
However, that figure increased to 75pc should pay discrimination be completely resolved.
Delegates will also hear concerns about Leaving Cert reform.
The TUI says that while it welcomes elements of the current plan, State certification and external assessment must be retained.
Mr Gillespie also highlighted how the changes being proposed require additional resources if they are to be successfully delivered, adding that Minister Foley “was very short on detail in this respect”.
Mr Gillespie also criticised Education Minister Norma Foley for failing to consult with teaching unions on her announcement about the orals and music practicals taking place over the Easter break.
He described it as “deeply disappointing” and called on her to review her proposal regarding the scheduling of practicals.
“It is notable that all has not gone to plan for the minister. Easter was late and teachers who were exhausted could not commit to acting as examiners,” he said.
“Tired students were required to do three or even four orals and practical exams over a very concentrated period.”
Addressing the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Mr Gillespie said Irish educators stand ready to do all they can to provide appropriate education to those arriving here.
He asked those in attendance at the conference to stand for a minute in solidarity with those in Ukraine.
However, he also said strategic planning is needed so that schools have the capacity to deal with the influx of students in the coming months.
“An effective plan and contingency arrangements need to be available before schools close at the beginning of June. Sufficient, targeted investment must be made available to assist Ukrainian students when they arrive in our schools,” he added.