Pay inequality has created a teacher recruitment and retention crisis that will have severe repercussions for the education system unless it is urgently tackled, according to the three main teacher unions. In a joint statement, the Presidents of TUI, INTO and ASTI have called for an acceleration of the process of pay restoration for teachers employed since 2011.
The unions today made a detailed submission to the Public Service Pay Commission on the emerging crisis, which has seen a sharp fall in applications to teacher education courses, an increase in emigration amongst recently qualified teachers and increasing difficulties in filling posts and employing substitute teachers.
The submission outlines how:
- Last year, 3,600 persons with no qualifications worked in primary classrooms for 32,000 substitute days. No substitutes were claimed by schools for nearly 27,000 days during the first part of the year. This situation has deteriorated further since September 2017.
- At post-primary level, there has been a collapse in the number of applicants in for the Professional Masters of Education (PME), particularly in the STEM and modern languages areas in recent years.
Commenting on the submission, INTO President John Boyle said: ‘One of the consequences of pay inequality is serious teacher shortages here while Irish teachers are employed abroad. In schools here, the erosion of young teachers’ morale and the growth of discontent are real life impacts of indefensible, unjust and discriminatory pay rates.’
TUI President Joanne Irwin said: ‘There has been a drop of over 50% in PME applications (the PME is required to teach at post-primary level) in recent years with an even sharper drop in applications in specific subject areas. Increasingly, graduates who may once have considered teaching are now looking at other employments where they are guaranteed better remuneration. If the quality of our high-performing education system is to be maintained, an acceleration of pay restoration for those employed since 2011 is an absolute necessity.’
ASTI President Ger Curtin said: ‘Until recently, Ireland was one of a handful of countries in the OECD which did not face recruitment and retention problems in teaching. However, just as we have been warning for the past few years, that situation has now changed. Pay inequality is at the heart of this issue.’