Sunday 19 November 2017

'Retired' teachers back at work as graduates sign on

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

MORE than 300 retired teachers were employed in primary schools last month, despite up to 1,000 recent graduates being unable to get a job.

The retired staff were back in the classroom as substitutes at a minimum of €195.33 per day.

The primary teachers' union, the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO), has renewed its call on schools to ensure that newly qualified staff get priority for filling any vacancies.

INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan said yesterday that part of the problem was that unemployed teachers had no way of knowing where a vacancy arose, while the schools also needed to know how to contact them.

Retired teachers, by contrast, would be well known to the school.

The union has now called on the minister to establish panels of supply teachers on a regional basis so that available vacancies could be matched with teachers seeking work.

Fine Gael education spokesperson Fergus O'Dowd asked how could Education Minister Mary Coughlan "credibly stand over a policy of giving retired teachers jobs while thousands of newly qualified teachers can't get one?"

When there was full employment in the country, it may have made sense to employ retired teachers, but it could not be justified now, he said.

"This should be a no-brainer. Employing newly qualified teachers instead of retired teachers gets them off the dole and into the classroom. It's good for teachers, good for schools and good for the taxpayer" he said.

Ringfenced

"Every hour of work, be it on a permanent or casual basis in a school, must be ringfenced for those teachers who are currently looking for work" he said.

The INTO noted the reduction of the proportion of substitute teachers who were retired staff -- down to 8pc from 100pc a couple of years ago, when there was a shortage of qualified teachers.

However, increased numbers of teacher graduates meant last year, for the first time in decades, there were significant numbers of qualified teachers without work.

The INTO said one big school on Dublin's southside had a list of 76 fully qualified teachers seeking substitute work.

At the same time, another school reported making nearly 20 calls on Sunday night to try and source a trained teacher to fill a vacancy.

INTO branches in different parts of the country have compiled panels of newly qualified teachers in the area who are available for work. Among these are Craobh an Erigal in Donegal where there are 20 teachers registered and Ballina branch in Mayo where there are 41 teachers without regular work

There is a scaled rate of pay for retired teachers re-employed as substitutes. The daily rate, for the first 40 days a year at primary level, is €195.33, while for the first 150 hours at second-level, the rate is €46.85 an hour. Above those thresholds, rate is individual to the retired teacher, based on pre-retirement salary.

A spokesperson for the minister said that while the appointment of teachers was ultimately a matter for decision by individual school authorities, the department wrote to schools last year about giving priority to newly qualified teachers without work over those who had retired.

Irish Independent

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