More than 160 teachers 'aren't qualified to teach'
A total of 162 unqualified teachers were employed in primary and second level schools last year, writes John Walshe.
New figures, revealed in an answer to a Dail question, show that 129 were employed at primary level and the remaining at second level.
In each case the school had to show that every reasonable effort had been made to recruit an appropriately qualified and registered teacher. Their contract stipulated that the job would end when a qualified teacher became available. The unqualified staff were paid less than the qualified rate, according to a written reply from Education Minister Mary Coughlan. She said it was her policy that only qualified personnel should be employed by schools.
"Unqualified personnel should not be appointed except in exceptional circumstances and then only when all avenues for recruiting qualified personnel have been exhausted and even then only for quite limited time periods. It is for this reason that Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act 2001 is to be amended," she told Sinn Fein's Caoimhghin O Caolain.
The amendment of the section will include provision for it to be regulated that a school may only employ unregistered personnel on a time-limited basis in exceptional circumstances.
The INTO has strongly objected to the provision, saying that it was completely unacceptable for a non-teacher to be employed in schools when highly qualified teachers were seeking work
Sheila Nunan, INTO general secretary, said the union would be seeking a meeting with the department to ensure that no "non-teachers" were appointed to teaching positions this year.
"It is completely unacceptable for a non-teacher to be employed in schools when highly qualified teachers are seeking work," said Ms Nunan.
But sources said the amendment was necessary because the unqualified staff would not get paid when the full Teaching Council legislation, which states that all teachers paid out of public funds must be qualified and registered, is implemented.
Sources added that some unqualified teachers last year had applied for registration but it had not come through in time.