More than 600 additional college course places announced to help address teacher shortage

Posed image of a classroom. Photo: monkeybusinessimages

Laura Lynott

More than 600 additional teaching course places have been announced to deal with a shortage of schoolteachers.

The Department of Education said there had been “ongoing pressures relating to the availability of substitute teachers”.

The shortage, coupled with an evident impact on “teacher demands”, with the enrolment of 9,300 Ukrainian children and an increased provision for special needs pupils, had led to the necessity for new teachers “exceeding previous expectations”, the department added.

Recent policy advances, such as the extension of Deis status to 322 additional schools from this September, had also created further demand for staff.

The department said the changes would bring the pupil-teacher ratio in schools to a historic low.

Education Minister Norma Foley said: “Primary school teaching remains a very popular career option, both for students leaving school and people turning to teaching mid-career.

“Over successive Budgets we’ve been successful in increasing the number of teaching posts available in our schools, bringing the pupil-teacher ratio down to its lowest ever level, growing the number of Deis schools and increasing the number of home-school liaison and special education posts.”

In total, 610 new places will be released over the next two years, with 320 places to be unveiled this year and 290 next year.

There will be 90 more places on the Bachelor in Education (B.Ed.) programme this year and next. Thirty extra places will be released on the B.Ed. through the Medium of Irish (B.Oid) in 2023, making a total of 60 in 2023.

A total of 200 additional places will be provided on the Professional Master of Education (Primary Teaching) (PME) programme in 2023 and 2024.

Ms Foley said: “I wish to acknowledge the higher education institutions’ commitment to this increased number of students on the Primary B.Ed., B.Oid. and Primary PME programmes.

“This significant increase is only possible with their co-operation. I would like to thank them for engaging openly and constructively with the department on this matter and for their continuing co-operation and collaboration.

“This is in addition to a number of measures taken and under way which are intended to address current challenges in the area of teacher supply in primary and post-primary schools. I and my department continue to work collaboratively with the education partners to ensure teacher supply.”

The primary concurrent and consecutive programmes are available in the following State-funded higher education institutions: Dublin City University (DCU), Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Marino Institute of Education and Maynooth University.