Survey indicates half of second-level schools have unfilled vacancies
ASTI members forgo pay increase to reduce pay inequality in teaching
A RED C/ ASTI survey indicates that there are unfilled vacancies in more than half of all second-level schools. Principals who participated in the survey say the declining attractiveness of teaching is the main reason for this.
Eighty-four per cent of principals surveyed have experienced situations during this school year where no teacher applied for an advertised post; 55 per cent of principals state that they currently have unfilled vacancies. The survey was undertaken in March 2022.
Principals identify a number of factors which they believe are impacting on teacher shortages. Chief amongst these are inadequate numbers of teachers graduating in certain subjects, the high cost of the two-year Professional Master of Education (PME) and the decline in the attractiveness of teaching.
Commenting on the survey findings, ASTI President Eamon Dennehy said: “We are seeing the fruits of a short-sighted government decision to de-value the work of teachers. Teaching is not sufficiently attractive anymore largely due to demoralising unequal pay.
“Ireland is fortunate to have a high performing education system, but we are at a critical point. The Government must act now to end unequal pay and address recruitment and retention difficulties in schools. You cannot value education if you do not value teachers.”
ASTI members forgo pay to reduce pay inequality
Mr Dennehy said the ASTI will do everything in its power to end unequal pay scales for teachers who entered the profession after 2010. This includes using part of the 1% salary increase for second-level teachers (available under Sectoral Bargaining)* to restore the PME allowance which was abolished for new entrants to teaching in 2012.
“What this means is that the majority of second-level teachers will forgo some of their pay in order to reduce the pay-gap experienced by those teachers on an inferior pay scale. It is deplorable that ordinary teachers have to use their pay to rectify a reckless government decision that has left second-level schools unable to recruit teachers across a range of subjects.”
Over a third (34%) of classroom teachers rate their wellbeing as poor, according to the RED C/ASTI survey. Less than a third (28%) rate their wellbeing as good or very good. Teachers surveyed say workload and work intensity are the main factors impacting their wellbeing. Alarmingly, job satisfaction amongst teachers has dropped from 63 per cent in 2021 to 50 per cent in 2022.
The right to disconnect from school e-communications after the school day was identified as the top priority for improving teacher wellbeing. Teachers also believe that more professional time during the school day (i.e. less teaching time**) and smaller class sizes will improve wellbeing.
“Recent ASTI research demonstrated that large classes are the norm across a range of Junior Cycle subjects. Large classes by definition mean increased workload for teachers in terms of preparation for the class, setting and marking homework and record keeping,” said Eamon Dennehy. “Teaching is hugely relational and teacher-student interaction is a vital component of quality classroom teaching and learning. Large classes hinder teacher-student interaction and increase work intensity for teachers who must cater for the diverse learning needs of each class.”
Safe teaching/ learning environments
The key recommendation from teachers for a safe working environment post-pandemic is smaller classes. Seventy-seven per cent felt this should be a priority. Adequate work space for teachers is also important (71%) as are having a strong cleaning regime (67%) and improving air quality in schools (58%).
More than 2,500 second-level teachers took part in the RED C/ ASTI research Supporting Teachers, Supporting Schools. The survey is available here.
*The current Building Momentum Agreement includes a pay increase for teachers due from February 1st 2022, which is the financial equivalent to a general 1% salary increase. The ASTI can either have 1% paid to all ASTI members, or use the financial equivalent to address a specific outstanding issue/s. The ASTI has chosen to prioritise pay inequality for post 2010 entrants to teaching rather than accept a general pay increase for all ASTI members.
**Second-level teachers in Ireland spend more time teaching than the OECD country average.