Friday 15 November 2019

Student teachers spending own cash on classes

Michael Kerrigan: No financial support for student teachers. Picture: Andres Poveda
Michael Kerrigan: No financial support for student teachers. Picture: Andres Poveda
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Student teachers on placement in schools are paying out up to €60 a week from their own pockets to cover the cost of classroom materials to aid pupil learning.

That is on top of fees, travel costs and rental for those not living at home, and it is putting the students under severe financial pressure, according to a new report.

More than four in 10 (42pc) of students have considered dropping out due to the financial burden associated with work placements - at a time when there is major concern about teacher shortages.

One student on placement in the primary sector told the Irish Independent that they were told in college not to ask to use the schools' printers and she had spent €26 photocopying material for one day's class.

The report, based on a survey of 3,000 student teachers and recent graduates, was conducted by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), in association with Irish Congress of Trades Unions and the three teacher unions, ASTI, TUI and INTO.

It found that 71pc of students held part-time jobs during placement in order to afford rent, materials for teaching, travel and food, as well as the €1,500 fee for attending the Gaeltacht.

USI president Michael Kerrigan said students were "following their dreams to teach the next generation while battling the high cost of living with no financial support being given at all".

Meanwhile, student teachers in their final year of post-graduate study should be paid to work in schools to help deal with staff shortages, according to Fianna Fáil.

While the two-year, postgraduate professional masters of education (PME) is the only route into teaching, it is used by many graduates to gain a professional qualification.

Fianna Fáil education spokesperson Thomas Byrne said that the PME is "dysfunctional in its present form, and is in dire and urgent need of review".

PME reform is among the measures put forward by Fianna Fáil in a 10-point plan to combat teacher shortages.

Irish Independent

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