Survey shows new teachers committed to improving young people’s lives, but pessimistic about teaching as career

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Despite a desire to work with young people, make a difference and teach a subject they love, the majority of trainee second-level teachers graduating this summer are pessimistic about their career and feel singled out by the Government for inferior treatment as employees, an ASTI survey has found.

Over 10% of this year’s Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) cohort have no plans to look for teaching work in Ireland because of the shortage of teaching posts and an unwillingness to spend years in part-time/ temporary teaching jobs. Most of these teachers plan to change careers and/ or emigrate.

“Instead of helping us to rebuild our society and economy, our highly educated and motivated young teachers are being forced to emigrate,” ASTI General Secretary Pat King said today. “We are investing in their education, only to export them at the end of it.”

Just over half of respondents (53%) expect to have a permanent teaching position in five years time; 24% expect to be in non-permanent teaching positions. The reality – according to OECD figures - is that more than half (53%) of Irish second-level teachers under 30 years of age have a temporary teaching contract of one year or less.

Those who are lucky enough to get a job will be treated differently than the colleagues they will be teaching alongside. New teachers face a 14% pay cut instead of the previously announced 10% pay cut for new entrants to the public service. This is on top of the pay cuts already applied to existing public sector workers.

Commenting on the survey, Pat King said: “Newly qualified second-level teachers face a bleak future including unemployment, emigration, precarious employment, lower pay for doing the same work as colleagues, and a pension scheme which will see them pay more in in contributions than they will ever receive in pension benefit. It is shameful to think that this group of valuable but vulnerable people are being treated as ‘second class’”.
Damaging to education

“Young teachers are the lifeblood of second-level schools,” said Mr King. “After spending four or five years studying and training they enter schools anxious to make a positive contribution to the lives of the students in their care. It is a travesty that instead of making that vital contribution the majority will be forced to emigrate or change profession. We are not only losing committed teachers, we are losing football coaches, camogie coaches, organisers of musicals and debates, and co-ordinators of projects like the Young Scientist and the Gaisce – President’s Award.

“Young teachers who are lucky enough to pick up six or eight hours teaching work in a school may find they have insufficient contact with pupils which impacts negatively on teaching and learning. Many of these teachers will find it difficult to integrate into the school community and will have less professional development opportunities than their full-time colleagues. All of these issues ultimately affect the quality of education delivered by schools.”

The survey of 661 PGDE students also found that trainee teachers are angry that they will have inferior pay and conditions than their colleagues. Aoife Ní Mháille, ASTI member and PGDE student at Trinity College Dublin said: “I took time out to do a Masters Degree before completing my PGDE. Now I enter teaching on a lower salary than my undergraduate classmates. It’s not about the money, it’s about fairness and equity. It’s very tough as a new teacher, working hard to build up experience and trying to prove yourself so you might eventually get a permanent job. To know that you’re being treated less favourably than others during that time and for the rest of your career will be very hard to take and is simply unjust.”

Read the full survey here