November 9, 2021
Government must urgently tackle the growing substitution crisis in our schools – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has called on the Government to urgently tackle the growing substitution crisis in our schools.

Speaking after raising the issue with An Taoiseach in the Dáil this afternoon, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“Keeping schools open safely and functioning well is a priority for everyone.

“However, pretending that there is no problem in our schools, and creating a vacuum of information, helps no one.

“Three weeks ago, I asked the Government to engage with NPHET and reconsider the position on contact tracing, coming to a middle ground that would allow schools to make decisions on the basis of complete information and access to public health teams, whilst also not keeping healthy children out of school for lengthy periods.

“The Taoiseach and Tánaiste a fortnight ago both said that this was being explored, which I welcomed, but it doesn’t seem that this is being pursued with urgency. There is still no contact tracing, and schools are still being left to fend for themselves.

“We also have a really profound substitution crisis which is absolutely debilitating schools.

“One principal I spoke with had received 11 rejections from substitutes in 9 days in October. I speak to Principals and they are cancelling Boards of Management meetings, CPD, postponed training, and much more.

“The Minister has spoken often about local solutions, but school leaders have already exhausted all of these.

“There are options to be explored here, including extending panels to the whole country, discouraging lengthy block-booking of subs, creative deployment of teaching practice students, and reinstating banked special education hours.

“Today in the Dáil, I urged the Taoiseach to wake up to the realities of the substitution crisis, and to take urgent action to address this. So far, the Government has been in denial on this, schools feel isolated, and principals are firefighting. I urge the Government to intervene.”

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