Minister has thrown in the towel on teacher recruitment and retention crisis


Monday 8 January 2024

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Press releases

Minister has thrown in the towel on teacher recruitment and retention crisis

The teacher recruitment and retention crisis is ensuring that schools are barely able to cope, ASTI General Secretary Kieran Christie has said today.

Hundreds of unfilled post-primary teaching posts are advertised on the education recruitment website every week.

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 last year. In that survey, 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.

The ASTI has learned that, contrary to what was previously understood, the Minister for Education has not sought any funding from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to induce teachers back from countries such as the United Arab Emirates, whereby upon return, they currently must recommence their careers in Ireland at the bottom of the teachers’ pay scale, irrespective of their experience. The ASTI has long advocated for a scheme to be introduced to accommodate those who have returned and/or would return by recognition of their teaching service abroad. Currently, no incremental credit is provided for such service, as happens when teachers return from teaching in EU schools for instance.

This position, in addition to the Minister’s failure to address the fact that such teachers are normally obliged to return to part-time or fixed-term positions, often for years after their return, exacerbates the problem.

In addition, the ASTI has argued that the current arrangement whereby a graduate must undertake a two-year Professional Master of Education course to qualify as a post-primary teacher is too long, and is a luxury we cannot afford in a time of crisis. The ASTI has argued for a return to a one-year post graduate qualification which would significantly address the problem. The Department of Education confirmed at a recent event organised by the Teaching Council that no consideration of such a move is taking place.

We have been told that more than 30 separate measures have been implemented to seek to address the crisis. They obviously have not worked and have barely impacted a problem that continues to get worse.

Kieran Christie, ASTI General Secretary, said:

“The refusal of the Minister for Education to seek the necessary funds to address the problems associated with incremental credit for some teachers returning to Irish schools is an abject failure. Her determination to maintain the extraordinary casualisation of teachers’ employment status in their early years coupled with an excessive length of pre-teacher training for graduates demonstrates a Minister with neither the political will or wherewithal to properly tackle the problem. What is required is the Minister to change her course and take meaningful measures that will restore and enhance the attractiveness of teaching as a profession in Ireland”.

Mr Christie, further stated:

“The Minister, by seeking to lure teachers to return from other countries on the promise of part-time or fixed-term positions and to be placed on the first point of the teachers’ incremental pay scale, is failing the schools and the students in our schools. This must change whereby, subject to satisfactory probation, permanent appointments are made available and successful applicants are placed on a point on the teachers’ pay scale that properly reflects their experience.

“The impacts of this situation remain very real. Schools continue to be forced to reassign Special Education Needs teachers to mainstream classes.  Almost a fifth of schools have been forced to remove a subject/subjects from the curriculum.

“The minimalist approach to the problem must stop”.”


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