Education | Attracting and retaining teachers at primary and second level amongst pressure
To ask the Minister for Education the extent to which she hopes to attract and retain teachers at primary and second level in all areas throughout the country; the regions currently showing greatest pressure in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
The recruitment and retention of teachers are priority areas of action for the Department given the importance of ensuring that every child’s experience in school is positive and that they have available to them qualified, engaged, and supportive teachers to support them in their learning.
While I am aware that schools are experiencing challenges in both recruiting teachers and obtaining substitute teachers, my officials have informed me that the rate of early-retirement and resignation is consistent with previous years .
While my Department does not currently collate data on the number of secondary and primary schools with recruitment issues on a regional basis, my officials are aware of the specific challenges in certain areas.
My Department is undertaking a comprehensive programme to support the supply of teachers. A number of measures are being implemented to enhance the supply of teachers, including:
- a number of special temporary arrangements are being introduced, following meetings I held with initial teacher education providers, to create greater capacity for student teachers to provided substitute cover.
- the Department’s continuing professional development (CPD) services have adjusted planned CPD to reduce the need for substitution and provide additional personnel to support schools
- the additional hours that post primary teachers can teach each term have been increased from 20 to 35 for the remainder of the 2022/23 school year.
- a communications campaign has been launched to encourage retired teachers to take up short-term substitute positions and enabling them to teach for up to 50 days in each of the calendar years 2021 to 2023 without reducing their pension. In 2022, almost 870 retired primary teachers and over 220 post-primary teachers provided substitute cover in schools, representing an increase over 2021.
- registration with the Teaching Council of over 2,100 3rd and 4th year undergraduate student teachers, enabling them cover substitutable vacancies.
- providing allocations for the 2023/24 school year to post-primary schools on 26 January, while those for primary schools issued on 31 January.
- providing for fully funded upskilling programmes in mathematics, physics and Spanish. Beginning with 170 places in January 2021, I have agreed to increase places to over 300 in 2023, and a new Irish upskilling programme is planned for 2023/24.
- providing for the allocation of a significant number of additional posts to primary substitute teacher supply panels in areas where significant challenges in sourcing substitution continue. This brings the total to 610 posts on 151 panels covering more than 2,840 schools.
- the Teaching Council, on a time-bound basis, will accept applications from primary and post-primary teachers who have qualified outside of Ireland but who have not completed the statutory period of induction in the country in which they qualified.
These measures are underpinned by the Teaching Transforms campaign which promotes the teaching profession and encourages students to follow a career in teaching.
Despite the positive impact of these important actions, work remains to be done to address teacher supply challenges, particularly to ensure the availability of sufficient numbers of substitute teachers. My Department continues to work intensively with all stakeholders to develop and implement creative solutions to address the teacher supply challenges for schools.
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