Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has called on Minister Norma Foley to urgently address the crisis in teacher supply and listen to the INTO proposal for an emergency taskforce.
Speaking today in the Dáil, Teachta Ó Laoghaire called for Government to remove the October and November cut-offs for permanent contracts, so that teachers coming home for Christmas from Britain, the Middle-East and elsewhere, have the opportunity to get a full time contract and to keep them here.
The Cork South-Central TD said:
“We have a severe crisis in teacher supply at present in both primary and post-primary schools.
“In my view, this is primarily caused by the cost-of-living crisis, which is at its most severe particularly in Dublin, but also in the other major urban centres.
“Teachers, particularly lower-paid younger teachers, cannot afford the rental costs and have very little prospect of being able to manage a mortgage in those big urban centres.
“There are multiple examples here in Dublin in particular. In Coolmine Community School, they have had to take a decision not to offer subjects such as woodwork and metalwork.
“As mentioned on RTÉ News, on 28th November in St. James’s Primary School, Dublin City, three teachers were out sick but only one substitute teacher could be found, leading to a number of classes being combined.
“The school advertised for a position on the supply panel, but there were zero applications. Some 60% of spaces on the supply panels in Dublin are vacant.
“At post-primary level in particular, it is about the creation of additional positions.
“We have too many teachers who are on insecure temporary contracts and who are underemployed. That is a key part of addressing the supply issue at this level.
“At primary level, there are similar issues. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the requirement for teachers who trained in Britain to complete their induction in Britain was waived by the Department.
“Something similar should be examined here and I ask the Minister to look at that at today’s meeting.
“Foremost, I ask the Minister to examine the following. This Christmas hundreds of teachers will return home from Britain, Scotland and the Middle East.
“Some would love to be teaching here in Ireland but they cannot be offered a permanent position after 1st October at post-primary level and 1st November at primary level.
“If these teachers want to stay at home after Christmas their best chance is to take a temporary contract until the summer, go without pay over the summer months and then take their chances on getting a permanent position or a contract of indefinite duration in September.
“Would it not be far better, as was the case until approximately eight years ago, if the Department could allow permanent contracts to be offered to them?
“This would mean those teachers returning from Dubai, England or wherever could come home and be offered a permanent job and get paid over the summer. They would stay in the system.
“As things stand, they would have to apply for a temporary contract, not be paid over the summer, and take their chances for next year.
“Will the Minister look at this? Can we offer permanent jobs to the hundreds of teachers, and perhaps more than this, who are working abroad at present?”