Monday 16 December 2019

No cover found to take class on 155,000 absence days

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Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Teacher absences from primary and two-thirds of post-primary schools ran at almost one million days in 2017 and more than 10pc - 155,000 - were not covered by a substitute teacher.

The absences included sick leave, both certified and self-certified, maternity leave and family related leave, professional development and working on the annual State exams.

The figures, in the Department of Education's report on teacher demand and supply, highlight the challenges for principals and for policy makers trying to predict the number of teachers required to cover all eventualities.

The figures do not include post-primary schools in the education and training boards (ETB) sector.

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There were about 60,000 full-time equivalent teachers working in the other sectors.

The report estimates that the primary system currently needs the equivalent of 3,849 full-time teachers to cover absences, and 1,484 at post-primary level.

In 2017, primary teachers were not at work for a total of 704,335 days, 118,112 (17pc) of which were not covered.

Maternity leave accounted for most absences, at 334,026 days, followed by certified sick leave, 123,401 days, and family related leave, 98,690 days.

There are 3,200 primary schools and 1,016 of them had 10 or more uncovered days as a result of maternity leave, while 841 had 10 or more uncovered days because of certified sick leave and more than 500 had 10 or more uncovered days due to family related leave.

Other than in small schools, self-certified sick leave is not usually substitutable and only 12pc (1,714) of 14,850 lost days were covered.

At post-primary level, total teacher leave amounted to 247,860 days and 37,166 (15pc) of those were not covered.

There were 10,907 self-certified sick days, none of which was covered by a substitute teacher.

Irish Independent

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