The teacher recruitment and retention crisis means that schools are under enormous strain and are at a critical point.
Today, there are 416 unfilled post-primary teaching posts advertised on the education recruitment website educationposts.ie.
This confirms the extent of the recruitment and retention crisis in our schools and is in keeping with the findings of a RED C/ ASTI survey published earlier this year which found that three-quarters of school leaders reported they had received no applications for an advertised teaching post and that there were unfilled teaching vacancies in almost half of all second-level schools.
81% of principals/ deputy principals surveyed said that they had employed at least one unqualified teacher during the last school year.
ASTI believes that in a functioning society, the first duty of any Minister for Education is to ensure that there is a classroom teacher before all students for the entirety of the school day.
The impacts of this situation are very real. Schools have had to resort to reassigning Special Education Needs teachers to mainstream classes. Almost a fifth of schools have been forced to remove a subject/subjects from the curriculum.
Since 2018, successive Ministers for Education have adopted a minimalist approach to the problem. Welcome initiatives have been announced including upskilling of existing teachers, extra training places for teachers in our colleges of education, changes to student teacher placement arrangements, changes to the substitution arrangements applicable for teachers on leave schemes and retired teachers.
However, continuing to rely on these measures when they clearly have not worked is not an option.
There has been a marked reluctance on the part of Minister Foley to grasp the levers of change that will be necessary to address the problem fundamentally.
Kieran Christie, ASTI General Secretary, said:
“It is astonishing that the Minister was seeking to lure teachers to return from other countries this summer on the promise of part-time or fixed term positions. This must change whereby, subject to satisfactory probation, permanent appointments are made available. Shortening of the extraordinarily long teachers’ pay scale and doubling the number of middle management posts in schools are the kind of measures that will be needed if we are to properly address the teacher supply crisis.
Failure to act on this reality in the face of overwhelming evidence will leave a damaging and lasting legacy.”