Wednesday 17 January 2018

Public sector: Teacher

Keith Howley. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Keith Howley. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

YOUNG secondary school teachers are being forced to choose between professional happiness and a guaranteed pay packet.

Keith Howley (below) says he loves his job, but feels frozen in time because of the lack of stability in not knowing if he'll have a job each September.

Temporary contracts, changes in teaching staff and larger class sizes are also detrimental to students, the 24-year-old said.

"People go on about the parity of pay, or the lack of it, but the first thing a new teacher is thinking of is getting a job, it's not the pay," said Mr Howley.

Second-level teachers who secure permanent positions start on about €30,000, which rises every year. But the vast majority spend several years in temporary/substitute teaching jobs earning a fraction of this, with no income over the holidays.

Mr Howley, a maths and science teacher in Pobalscoil Neasain in Baldoyle, north Dublin, said graduates are battling it out for as little as six hours teaching a week.

"You might top it up a bit more with sub work if another teacher is out sick, but it's not a lot," he said.

"It's degrading to apply for six to eight hours of work. You have to come in and do just as much work and preparation, your classes are still dispersed over a 9-5 day, and you can be sitting in the staff room for hours between classes."

Mr Howley started his teaching career covering sick-leave and maternity cover in Pobalscoil Neasain in 2012/2013. He was called back that September on a one-year contract, which was only renewed for a second year two weeks ago.

"Up to that point I was applying for other jobs because I didn't know what was going to happen," he said.

Irish Independent

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