Graduates lose out to unqualified staff
MORE than 700 unqualified teachers have been employed by primary and secondary schools despite hundreds of recent teaching graduates struggling to find work.
The situation is particularly severe at primary level, which accounted for the vast majority of the 715 unqualified teachers who have been employed by schools.
Some 629 unqualified teachers were in charge of primary classrooms over the past two years, while 86 were employed at second level, figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveal.
The figures come amid recent concerns about the quality of maths education. Almost half of the maths teachers at post-primary level do not have the relevant qualification.
It is estimated there are around 1,000 newly qualified primary teachers without work.
But the number of unqualified teachers working in schools fell dramatically last year. More than 550 untrained teachers were employed in 2008, but this was down to just 162 last year.
But rather than attributing this to stricter enforcement of standards, teachers' unions say government cutbacks and increases in class sizes are the real reasons.
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation said it was not surprised to see a 75pc fall in untrained teachers. "People without qualifications are not teachers and can only provide supervision for children," said Sheila Nunan, the incoming general secretary of the union.
The Department of Education said schools should give priority to qualified teachers when making appointments.