Students 'will not be hit by exodus of teachers'
THE exodus of staff from schools at the end of February will not leave pupils without teachers, parents have been assured.
There are enough teachers seeking employment to fill the gaps, according to school managers and unions.
And, in some cases, retiring teachers will continue working until the end of the school year.
Latest figures show about 1,600 teachers have signed up for early retirement before pension changes are introduced.
There are an estimated 2,000 teachers seeking regular employment, who will seize on these opportunities. And at second-level, there are also teachers working part-time who will welcome extra hours.
Special arrangements have also been made to allow retiring teachers with responsibility for Leaving and Junior Cert classes to continue working until the June exams.
However, those who take up the option of returning to work will be paid at the bottom rate of the pay scale, based on an annual salary of around €32,000.
Ferdia Kelly, general secretary of the Joint Managerial Body, representing about two thirds of second-level schools, said they were satisfied that continuity of teaching and learning would be maintained after the retirements.
According to the latest figures, 798 primary teachers are leaving under the early retirement deal. The Irish National Teachers Organisation said it did not anticipate recruitment problems because there were as many as 1,000 newly qualified primary teachers currently without regular work.
However, some of the jobs arising will be short-lived because of changes to the pupil-teacher ratio in September.
Of the 1,600 teachers who have signed up to retire early, 799 are in second-level schools and will be replaced up to June. However, Budget cuts will strip second-level schools of 700 teaching posts in September.
Teachers' Union of Ireland general secretary John MacGabhann said that the Budget changes would rob new teachers of the opportunity to gain employment.
Primary schools are also facing cuts in the allocation of teachers but they are more than offset by rising enrolments, which will see 250 extra primary teachers in September.