Teaching body and Coughlan clash on plans
THE body responsible for regulating the teaching profession has clashed with Education Minister Mary Coughlan over the use of unqualified teachers working in schools.
Every year, hundreds of people who do not have teaching qualifications are hired for short periods in schools.
The minister is planning legal changes to ensure that unqualified teachers are appointed only in exceptional circumstances, where a qualified person is not available.
But the Teaching Council, which regulates standards in the profession, says the legal changes are unnecessary.
Schools used panels in the past but they were too expensive because teachers had to be paid a retainer to ensure they were available.
But hundreds of recently-qualified teachers are estimated to be on the dole.
Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act, 2001, requires that all teachers paid from public funds be registered with the council. But the section has yet to be signed into law by the minister.
Ms Coughlan has proposed an amendment which would allow for the temporary employment of unqualified personnel if no registered teacher is available.
"The present position is that there is no statutory restriction on the employment by schools of unregistered personnel," she said. "The amendment will end that undesirable situation and will bring about a situation where, for the first time, only in the most exceptional circumstances can an unregistered person act in the place of a teacher."
But the council has rejected the argument saying the amendment would give unqualified personnel a legal right to teach in schools.
"The amendment would undermine the objective of the section, which is to ensure that all teachers in state schools have met the council's professional standards," it claimed.
The council accepted that occasionally situations can arise where a teacher was needed at short notice and called for panels of registered teachers as a solution to the issue.