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Primary teachers paid to be on stand-by in plans to address shortages

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Primary teachers will be paid to be available for work under new plans to address staff shortages in schools. Stock photo: Getty

Primary teachers will be paid to be available for work under new plans to address staff shortages in schools. Stock photo: Getty

Getty Images

Primary teachers will be paid to be available for work under new plans to address staff shortages in schools. Stock photo: Getty

Primary teachers will be paid to be available for work under new plans to address staff shortages in schools.

Panels of teachers will be formed and used to fill temporary vacancies, making it much easier for schools to find a replacement at short notice.

Education Minister Joe McHugh has confirmed that talks are ongoing with the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) about the panels. He said they may be set up on a regional basis.

Only a year ago, his predecessor Richard Bruton dismissed the idea of panels as being "expensive and ineffective".

Teacher supply panels were previously trialled but they were abandoned in the early years of the recession.

The INTO and the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) have made repeated calls for their roll-out to deal with the teacher supply crisis.

IPPN president David Ruddy told his association's annual conference yesterday that "if it weren't for retired teachers we would not be able to survive".

The issue facing primary schools is finding substitute teachers for vacancies ranging from sudden, short-term illness to a longer absence, such as maternity leave.

The shortages are partly attributed to young teachers moving to the UK or the Middle East, or elsewhere, for job security and/or higher pay.

Even though there is a lot of substitute work available, it can be intermittent, with no continuity in earnings and being on a panel would mean being paid full time.

According to Department of Education statistics, in the 2017-18 school year some 1,003 retired primary teachers covered 33,093 days, up from 320 retired teachers covering 5,996 days in 2014-15.

Addressing the teacher shortage issue, Mr McHugh told the IPPN conference that he wanted " to see clever, creative practical" solutions.

"The information I'm getting back is the substitute panel is an example of doing this and it's something I want to see happen," he said.

Irish Independent